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Audeze LCD2 Planar Magnetic Headphones

96% Positive Reviews
Rated #3 in Over-Ear


Pros: Will change your Life forever

Cons: Will change your life forever

Growing up poor in Bucharpest, life often felt like this:




Then I got a wife and a job.  Now I am like this:




So now I was flush with cash and had nothing to spend it on.  Then I heard about the LCD-2.  The more I kept reading, the more excited I got.



And then I ordered.  And waited:



Then one day, a package came:



And I was like:


Then it was time for the unboxing:



Then came the listening. At first I was like:



Probably because of burn in or something.  But after 30 seconds the beat dropped, and it was like:


It was kind of weird when it was just me, but when I showed it to my wife and friends we were all:


Needless to say, when I first heard about burn in I was like:


But now I firmly believe:



Then I started surfing the forums looking for more great gear:



My friends and I would rock out with our headphones every night:


Long after they had all gone home, I was still burning the midnight oil, listening to my jams:



It was like Wall Street during the coke years.  I'd stay up all night and then go to work and put in my 60.  I thought my performance hadn't slipped at all.  But my bosses were like:

Then I went a step further and started getting all my audiophile packages at work:


My boss waited until a new one came and had it sent to his office. I had to go there to pick it up. When I came in, he was like:


After he fired me, I came home. My wife was not understanding, she dumped me:


I thought she was bluffing, so I gave her some time:


But she sent divorce papers over. Then I had to hire a lawyer. He talked a lot about how she wouldn't get a dime, so I was like:

I even sold the Audeze to pay for legal bills and as a result lost all my new friends. The little money the lawyer didn't take went to my ex, as she left court with the last of my cash she did a little dance on the ashes of our marriage:


Now I am poor and alone in Bucharpest again:


Screw you Audeze.


Pros: Tonal balance, low level listening, resolution, low distortion, Bass, godlike midrange

Cons: Need to save up..or rob a bank



I am an unabashed fan of orthodynamic headphones. Have been a dedicated orthohead for over two years now. All thanks to dBel84 for introducing me to some home made SFI driver based headphones at a meet. The Orthodynamic thread soon became a sanctuary and the folks who take part in the thread very close friends. We are dedicated group who share a passion for planar driven headphones and in our ideal world planar headphones would take back their rightful place at the head of the pack in audiophile headphone listening.         


    I have heard the best that the dynamic and electrostat headphones have to offer in the form of the HD800, T1 (not enough listening time however), PS-1000, Koss ESP950, Stax O2, lambda, SR-404 and they have all fallen short of what orthos can do.





Amplifiers :

EHHA-2 prototype


Stacker 2



Sources :

Sonic frontiers TransDAC heavily modded

Assemblage DAC 2.7 heavily modded



Reference headphone - Smeggy built Fostex T50RP woodies aka "Thunderpants"





With my review playlist at the ready I sat down to put the LCD-2 through its paces. I listen to every kind of music in nearly every type of digital format. My playlist reflected this. I wanted to see how the LCD-2 would perform in an everyday situation for me rather than just running through some reference discs. Genres from Indie rock to Southern rock, Country and folk to hardrock and metal, from jazz to pop, with western classical and Indian Classical rounding up the list. Their formats ranged from Mp3s, FLAC to XRCDs and DTS-HD Master Audio recordings were.


Initial Impressions

When Don informed me that he had the newest Audeze LCD-2 in his possession and invited me over to a listen, I jumped at the opportunity. Being a planar fan through and through I was excited to see what progress Audez'e had made over the promising LCD-1 that I had owned. With Portland's very own M Ward's - Post war at the ready I arrived at his place. As Don brought out the headphones, my jaw dropped at the gorgeous headphones he held in his hand. With the limited time at hand, after ogling at the LCD-2s build quality he set me down with his system with a cup of coffee in hand and left me to run it through its paces. I sat mesmerized for a full 40 minutes listening nearly to the entire album. When I was done all I could remark to Don was, "wow, that is something else". Yes I was a bit at a loss for words unlike today writing this review. I had one of the best vintage orthos tuned by dBel84 and a pair of the Fostex T50RP woody thunderpants. I ran a few tracks again going back and forth between the headphones and came away with the conclusion the LCD-2 was clearly the better headphone. All from within 40 mins of listening to it. I did find a few 'faults' at first with the LCD-2. I commented that I felt the bottom end was a bit flabby and that the high frequencies weren't hot enough to my tastes. But overall the headphones were the first ones that sounded ultra refined with oodles of detail and yet remained musical to me. I thanked Don for the opportunity and reluctantly left.


A couple of days later kwkarth agreed to come over to my place with his review pair of the LCD-2s so I could listen to them on my rig. We spent well over an hour running through some reference material. We also got around to trying the LCD-2 out of a portable amp with an Ipod as a source. The ALO Rx amplifier + Ipod combo did a commendable job here and confirmed to me that the LCD-2s could after all be driven comfortably with a portable amp such as the ALO Rx. This is good news to those who plan on using these headphones on the go as well. The audition was still too hurried to form any compelling impressions and I persuaded Audez'e to let me borrow the LCD-2 from dBel84s for a few days. Much to my delight they agreed.


Build Quality:

Soon as I got home, i gingerly brought out the headphones. Like a voluptuous woman pining for some love, the LCD-2 screamed at my hungry eyes for attention, to reach and caress her curves. I admit, I did. The headband foam was nice and soft, the pads were of high quality leather, they had worn in nicely since the first time I tried them on. The mini-XLR jacks is something that all would agree to being made standard on high end headphones. The cable was a far cry from the thick unwieldy one on the LCD-1 and neatly terminated into a Neutral jack. To top it all off, I was ecstatic to see 4 screws in the back which give immediate access to the rear of the driver, the area of most interest for us orthoheads who like to tune and configure orthos to our tastes. The guys at Audez'e had clearly been paying attention to our wish list.

Holding the LCD-2s in your hand, you know its a high end product, the result of quality workmanship and sound engineering.



Does it have 'sachu' bass?

I am notorious to be very picky with the low frequency response on any system I listen to. I personally feel most people are only exposed to a flat monotonic bass note on headphones. Orthos opened my eyes and gave me hope that they can reproduce speaker like texturing in low frequency notes. This drew me back into the headphone scene. Whenever i try a new headphone I am instantly focused on the low frequency reproduction capability.


I like the low frequencies to be extended, tight, accurate in tonal reproduction and most importantly textured. Largely, orthos do a fairly decent job in this area albeit after a fair amount of tuning, but still end up compromising on one of the other areas. Having owned and heard the LCD-1 and sold primarily for its lackluster performance when it came to low frequency response I wasn't prepared to accept the fact that the LCD-2s could come anywhere close to the prowess of my reference TPs.


     First thing I tried was an Indian Classical piece From the album, The Valley Recalls - 2. The impact of the Ghatam was everything that I expected it to be. The tablas and Mrudangam were sounding surreal, quick with just the right impact. Some orthos veil the notes from how a Tabla or Mrudangam sound but the LCD-2 was a revelation here. I had to convince myself what I was hearing was right. I quickly switched back to my reference headphones and could make out that the "tok" sound on a tabla was sounding off, more like a "tick" on the Fostex thnderpants. back on the LCD-2 I just closed my eyes and enjoyed the amalgamation of 3 ancient Indian percussion instruments fire away in harmony. As the track reached its crescendo, the tabla master Zhakir Hussain furiously thumping way on the tablas while the mrudangam was trying to keep up the tempo, each and every note blended blissfully. I felt I was back in the First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland where they once performed a year or two ago.


        Next I tried some Electronica,Pop the Cherry and Currywurst by Aerodromme. Breakbeat drum and bass and electronica usually don't have ultra low frequency material. What i look for here is impact. On the EHHA, the LCD-2s were head pounding but lacking some definition. Switching to the Stacker 2, the definition got back, more tighter bass but the impact was not as great. I stuck with the Stacker 2 amplifier as for the first time, I was able to rock hard to Electronica and DnB and actually appreciate the details in the recordings which i once thought to be non-existent. One only expects the 4 by 4 beat in a DnB track to stand out , but with the LCD-2 it transforms the experience and gets a rave going in your head.


   On M Ward's "Poison Cup" and Patricia Barber's Companion album, I could actually feel the pads vibrating on the ultra low bass notes. The double bass was as real and as tactile as it can get. It was like an onion. You can keep peeling away layer after layer of bass. They one upped my much vaunted thunderpants in the low frequency reproduction in everything except the impact levels. The LCD-2 were just as effortless as the thunderpants throughout. Fabulous!


       One further thing that I noticed was that some notes sounded stunning different on the two headphones. I don't quite know how to explain this but the notes just sounded real on the LCD-2. I was stunned and disappointed at the same time. As much as I hate to admit it I felt let down by my reference headphones. I again attribute the LCD-2s prowess in recreating tonally accurate notes to its open design, not to mention what appears to meticulously tweaked driver to extract every little bit of ortho goodness available. For a closed headphone my reference headphones are still the best I've heard. But overall, the LCD-2 frankly walked away with the prize. My reference headphones were no competition to be fully upfront.



The all important midrange.

Midrange is the stronghold of nearly all orthos. No, your dynamic headphone or stat headphone just don't do it like an ortho and that's a fact. The dynamics lack the emotion while stats sound thin to these ears. Perhaps the only stat to come close to otho like sound in the midrange is the Stax O2 MK1. To date the best midrange I have heard on any headphone has been the ultra rare and venerable Yamaha Yh-1000. It gave me the first eargasm ever listening to Margo sing Sweet Jane. It is very hard to describe the emotional involvement that one goes through when one listens to something so superlative, one that hasn't been experienced before and try to put words to describe the feeling. Its just something you have to hear for yourself. But then the YH1K is so rare a headphone that only a handful have had the privilege. I like my vocals just a bit upfront so I raised my eyebrow when i saw the freq curve on the LCD-2 prior to listening to it thinking, hmm that doesn't look good for the midrange. That 6-10dB drop from 1kHz onwards is significant i felt.


Those first 40 mins laid any apprehensions I had to rest. Now M Ward is a handsome albeit short man with a voice that makes girls swoon. Listening to him sing "Rollercoaster" left me swaying too and thinking I could kiss the man, he is after all singing right in front of me. It felt so real, you could hear each and every breath he took between verses, the backup vocals were something I had never heard on my reference headphones in the "Eyes on the Prize" track, at least not as clearly. I could pick out 3 distinct voices in the background. I was dumbstruck. I knew then, this was it. We finally had a pair of headphones that could go toe to toe with the Yh-1000 and then some. The difference between the two is the ultra low distortion levels. Both have the same emotion and awestruck feeling that they leave in their wake. But, the LCD-2 goes one step further giving you the blackest of black backgrounds.


The track 'Good Ole Boys like me' By Don Williams brought me to tears. His silky smooth yet rough in a complex way reminded me why he was my favorite Country artist. To round up the male vocals test, i played Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills and Pantera's Cowboys from hell. Till date I never knew one could actually discern details in genres such as metal, that one could connect with the normally screeching vocals on an emotional level. With the LCD-2 it wasn't just mindless headbanging, but it was headbanging with emotion.


For female vocals i rifled through Loreena Mckennit - A Phrygian Moon and Mummer's dance first. The lovely Canadian's voice sailed through the blob sitting between my ears. The tonal accuracy is nothing like I have heard. I rang up Rachel Yamagata's "I'll find a way" to hear her Sweet nasal voice sending shivers down my spine just as it did once in a demo room at RMAF. I felt I was back at the Crystal Ballroom a year ago when I saw her perform live (even with a slight case of the flu, the poor dear). The LCD-2 was resolving enough to show some distortion in the music however which I was surprised by. As I had listened to this track so many times in so many high end systems that while it was barely noticeable on them, it immodestly stood out on the LCD-2. Margo is a favorite of mine and naturally any female vocals test I do involves Sweet Jane and Blue Moon Revisited. I felt like I could just die and go to heaven listening to her on the LCD-2. I was on such a high listening to the LCD-2 that i played Lisa Gerrad's 'Elysium' track on the Gladiator OST. One of the most moving pieces of cinema scores ever created and the LCD-2 didn't disappoint as it moved me to my core. To round up the female Vocals test the Companion album by Patricia Barber (XRCD) was played a full 4 times from end to end. Every time revealing more and more details in the midrange. Putting it simply, the midrange on the LCD-2 is godlike.



Man it feels good to get high..

As noted in the initial impressions, i felt the energy in the highs were a tad lacking. However, as I got to spend more and more time with the LCD-2, it was apparent that they in fact extended just as well as the best headphones without adding coloration, being absolutely neutral in reproducing source material as it should be. I did miss the leading edge on tracks like the 'Librarian' or on any of the metal tracks. The strength however lies in the LCD-2s resolving power. I thought my reference headphones were the best resolving orthodynamic headphones I had heard. Boy was I wrong. The LCD-2 made mince meat of them in this regard. For instance, you could hear every creak in "I'll find a way", the cymbals were lifelike. On M ward's 'Chinese translation', his power with an acoustic guitar was there in its fully glory, each string being plucked, his fingers sliding up and down the strings, On Don Williams track too, one could hear the guitar plucks being as close to lifelike as it can get. On My Morning Jacket's " Touch me I am going to scream. Part2" there are at various points where the keyboards come in and while the Fostex thunderpants clouded the consecutive notes, the LCD-2 picked them apart beautifully. 


Special mention for the Indian classical track. Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia on the bamboo flute and Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma on the ancient instrument the Santoor (hammered Dulcimer), two living legends coming together to create some of the best pieces of music ever played. Each strike on the santoor and its harmonics were reproduced seamlessly. There is this section of the track where Shiv kumar sharma ramps up the tempo on the Santoor (each strike being as precise and fast as a pinprick) and so does Hariprasad Chaurasia on the flute (increasing the pitch as well) blending the two instruments into something only the Gods could have scripted. The urgency in the tempo one feels yet calmness reverberated by the tonal qualities of the instruments strike a balance that i had never experienced before listening to this track.




This is an area that most vintage orthos are severely handicapped at. I personally am not a soundstage freak. I don't want an area spanning a football field between my ears but enough to give breathing space for all the elements in an orchestra to come through without glazing over is fine. Even this modest task is mucked up by most vintage orthos. The other thing that most headphones and not just orthos suffer from is a fractured soundstaging, its not a seamless transition from left to middle to right.


 The only headphone I have heard do this superlatively has been the HD800 and it maintains this advantage over the LCD-2. However the upside on the LCD-2 is that there is actually enough of a soundstage. For example listening to The Battle - Gladiator OST you feel like you are actually there, the opening scene flashes before your eyes, you are there on the battle field, charging at them barbarians yelling "Roma Victor!". Listening to Rachael Yamagata singing "I'll find a way" I was transported back in time just as mesmerized to the Reimyo room at RMAF with the lights dimmed down. That feeling of immersion in the music was something I had never experienced with an orthodynamic headphone before. The open nature coupled with the transducer design is to be credited for this.



Imaging to me is more important than soundstage. My reference headphones have a problem with imaging well cause of their closed nature. It falls short with complex music where instruments lose their focus and get mixed up. The one headphone that did this better than anything else was the Stax Omega 2 or O2 MK1. The O2 is superlative in this field. I was overjoyed when I could pick out each and every instrument in the Listen Up! DTS master audio recording. This is one of the hallmarks of these headphones and so easily noticeable that I made a comment to the effect to Don about it when I heard it the first time. When Omar Hakim(on drums) goes off on a solo in the dts recording I was spellbound listening to each instrument, the hi-hat, the cymbals, snare, tom toms and the kick drum all in their rightful spaces with room to breathe.

Switching to Loreena Mckennit's "Highway man", the complex jamboree of instruments in the mix filter through the music that made me aware of what instrument was playing where in the scene and importantly how it sounded. My reference headphones just utterly made a hash of it here.  I was hearing details in the background that I had never heard before, such as the backup vocals on M ward's "Post war" track.

Conclusion:  The LCD-2 was right up there alongside the O2 in imaging.



Low level listening.

The LCD-2 is probably the best headphone I have had the pleasure of using for low level listening. Just for this reason alone I want to buy these headphones. Most headphones if not all that I have heard need to me to up the volume control knob to get full dynamic range reproduction. Not the case with the LCD-2 which translates to safer listening.

The LCD-2s retrieval ability at low listening levels is by far the greatest thing for me. How many times have you had to turn the volume down so your wife or gf wouldn't beat you in the head with your headphones cause you were disturbing her? For me its come close to being atleast once. It is frustrating listening to music at low levels simply because all, yes all headphones that I have listened to simply cannot sustain a full dynamic range at low levels. Some need to be turned up to hear and low frequencies notes at all, others make Margo of Cowboy Junkies sound like those American Idol wannabes.

But in comes the LCD-2, it makes it all seem so effortless at low volumes. There is all the low frequency extension, the shimmer in the highs and maintains that seductive midrange. I was sold on them after they kept me awake till 5 in the morning for two nights in a row of low level listening. This means my ears get to enjoy music without damaging for a very long time..maybe even till I am 40-50 years old. ;)

Nothing even comes close to it in this department.


What does this all mean to you and to me?

Staying true to the one and only rule of the audiophile world I will say trust your own ears. But if you don't know what you are hearing, then yeah just take my word for it. :)


The boys at Audez'e have come a long way since the LCD-1 that they released at last year's Canjam. To think a company's first real headphone product can sound as good as it does, look and feel good as good as it does just blows me away. These guys have undoubtedly put a lot of pain and effort, while all the time listening to the community for feedback and suggestions in bringing out the best they could offer. In my eyes and to these ears, they have surpassed every expectation by light years.


To me, the LCD-2 is the culmination of the end of a 3 decade drought for a true high end planar headphone that is well designed, well thought out, that can hang with the big guns of the stat world and then some. But, most importantly, it is one that has been tuned to perfection just like the only other ortho in my mind, the venerable Wharfedale Isodynamic that performs at its best from the get go. The Wharfedale was a revolutionary product in design and conception, the Audez'e is a fitting tribute to the pro-genesis of othodynamic headphones and is well poised to herald a resurrection of a once forgotten technology.


In Closing

While my reference headphones are brilliant sounding albeit being closed ones the LCD-2 comes along and says ..hang on there son..this is how you do it.

The LCD-2 has managed to show me that the rabbit hole indeed goes deeper. When I was feeling secure that my bleeding wallet had been patched up for good by my reference headphones, that I had reached a plateau with regards to how good a transducer can sound, that "this is it. It can get no better", the LCD-2 like an erupting volcano raised the bar into the stratosphere and in process made my wallet shrivel back in fear. I quickly realized that the asking price on these headphones was a pittance compared to the pure audio nirvana I was experiencing. Its a bit like watching Top gear with Jeremy Clarkson yelling "Power!!" while power sliding an angry yet sophisticated Ferrari V12 for the entire show. It brings forth the same fun, finesse and importantly, the soul and passion that the creator put into making these headphones. It makes you feel special. It makes you feel you are at one with the music, an extension of the audience Patricia Barber was singing to. The power of speed, detail, vividness in the low frequencies, the midrange seductiveness, its ability to ensconce you in the event that knocks on your eardrums and then make it all seem par for the course. Truly staggering.

I found myself scrambling through my music collection as the time to return them was at hand. As Jim James emotionally sang the last verses of track 8 on Evil Urges serenading his lady, the librarian, I found myself joining in, serenading the delightful little creature called the LCD-2, promising her that we'll be reunited soon.


"Simple Little Beauty, Heaven in your breath

Simplest of pleasures, the World at it's best"


Pros: Rich and warm tone, full-bodied low end, good detail, forgiving of many genres and poor mastering, stellar all-rounder in its pricerange

Cons: Weight distribution, tight clamp, earpads held in place with adhesive (tape or glue), soundstage a bit lacking


I would like to thank the guys over at Audio Sanctuary in New Malden, London, for lending me their display unit of the Audeze LCD-2 (2016 Edition) for a review. Check them out at https://www.audiosanctuary.co.uk/ and do visit their brick-and-mortar outlet if you are in the area for a terrific selection of high-end headphones and speakers.




Style:  Circumaural - open


Transducer type:  Planar magnetic


Magnetic structure:  Proprietary self-closing design, acoustically transparent


Magnet type:  High-grade Neodymium 


Diaphragm excursion:  2.5 mm peak to peak


Transducer active diaphragm area:  6.17 sq in


Sound pressure level (SPL):  130 db (maximum)


Housing:  Renewable Shedua composite or Caribbean Rosewood


Ear pads:  Specially designed acoustically shaped foam inserts with premium lambskin or super suede cover


Frequency response:  5 Hz - 20 KHz, usable high-frequency extension of 50 KHz


Total harmonic distortion (THD):  Less than 1% throughout entire frequency range


Impedance:  60 Ohms, purely resistive


Efficiency:  90 dB/1 mW


Maximum power handling:  15 W (for 200 ms)


Optimal power requirement:  1-4 W


ADZ6SE Cable (single-ended):  ¼” TRS to 2x4-pin mini XLR


Cable length:  2.5 m or 8.2 ft


Weight:  490 g (without cable - Bamboo Composite)


Weight:  522 g (without cable - Rosewood)




Build Quality, Comfort & Features


Despite what it says in the official specifications above, this particular LCD-2 weighs 548g. I must admit that I have not felt this level of discomfort from the stock configuration of a headphone since the days when I owned a Hifiman HE-500. The weight itself is not a bother, my ZMF Eikon is over 600g by comparison, but I find the distribution to be poorly handled. I am told that some purchase a Lohb strap to assist this matter, while others stretch out their headbands to reduce the clamp (also an issue, the lower back of my ears would get considerably strained after prolonged listening) – but I was not going to attempt these methods on a review loaner.


The LCD-2 is also the first full-sized headphone that I have encountered in which I have to completely maximize the headband adjuster to be as loose as possible. I have a large head, but not quite that large (if other headphones are anything to go by) so this was surprising to me.


As for the build quality itself, it seems quite sturdy in the hands – with the wooden cups standing out in a fetching manner. However, I do feel that the joints that connect the frame to the cups is a weak point – with it creaking and snapping whenever I stretched it open to don it.


The headphones use the same 4-pin mini-XLR connectors that all the LCD series do, as well as some other headphone manufacturers like ZMF. I find these connecters to be preferable to many, as they lock in place and are sturdier than simple plug-and-play push-in variants. I’m not sure if I agree with Audeze’s choice to have the connection on the earcups jutting forward as they do, but it does add to their unique design.


The headband has very little padding and, in my opinion, could greatly benefit from the use of a strap to even out the weight. Adding a Lohb strap would do the trick, but I specifically would need to buy the extended yoke rods that Audeze sell for $30 – a worthy investment in comfort, but one I have not tried personally.


Those looking to spend a little more can opt for the LCD carbon fibre headband, the one used by the flagship LCD-4 and the recently unveiled LCD Pro – retailing for $200 in the official store. This floating system utilizes a leather strap in its design.




The LCD-2 is quite the friendly headphone, injecting a warm hug of musicality in each piece of music listened to on it. Laid back and chilled, the headphone does not attempt speed, aggression or forwardness in either bass or treble. Soundstage is quite intimate but does not feel stifling and the imaging is adequate – making do with the space available in impressive fashion.


To further the topic of warmth, this headphone is not at all harsh to my ears in any region. It is neither supremely airy like the Sennheiser HD800 nor a bass cannon like the Fostex TH-X00. In truth, I hear a sense of comfortable clarity throughout the headphone – but some might get the sense that the headphones are veiled due to this. I find such a characteristic quite in line with the Audeze LCD series, with the LCD-3 having the most sparkle and crash from all of the open variants that I have tried (including the LCD-4). I would actually say that the LCD-3 had the most dynamic and impactful sound, but at the cost of the friendly nature that exists in the LCD-2 and, to a more refined degree, the LCD-4 200 ohm edition.


I’m told that the bass of the LCD-2 is one of the areas that has morphed considerably since the pre-fazor days of years past. Essentially, the clarity and dynamics of the headphone were increased at the cost of some sub-bass extension and overall bloom in the low end. Indeed, I have not heard a pre-fazor LCD-2, but I do find the bass to be more than adequate on the 2016 version. It extends decently low but does not have an immensely controlled nature – nor is it particularly fast. I find the speed decent enough to keep up with the transients of double-bass drums, but not if the tempo reaches Slayer levels. Despite being laid back, it is no slouch though – handling all genres that I throw at it with some ease – and only really being out of its element in the earlier mentioned example or in the electronic sub-bass usage in James Blake’s Limit to your Love. Overall, I find the low-end to have the sub-bass and mid-bass amount to make this an effective all-rounder for listeners – within reason. What’s left as a deciding factor now are the other frequencies.


The midrange of the LCD-2 is smooth. Not entirely liquid in nature like the Hifiman HE-500, but possessing a level of soft clarity that makes vocals have body and presence. It should also be noted that, although the midrange performance of the LCD-2 as a whole is smooth, it does not lack in detail – nor is it completely rolled in air. I can confirm that, to my ears, the transition between the bass to midrange is quite transparent and clean. The bloom on the lower midrange is minimal but what exists serves to accentuate the character of warmth that these headphones possess. Male vocals are quite well served, even gritty and guttural vocal tones ringing out clearly with the body and edge needed. The upper midrange is a bit dipped, but not drastically like the Focal Elear – meaning that while female vocals feel a little further away than male, they don’t sound thin or tonally off.


I must commend this headphone for being as forgiving as it is with some genres and recordings. A reference point that I have is an album that I think is mixed quite horribly – Master of Puppets by Metallica. Insisting on speed despite having a scooped guitar tone, while generally being mid-bassy all around, the album makes many high-end headphones fall flat on their face as they don’t quite know how to reproduce it effectively. The Focal Elear is by far the best headphone in my possession for this endeavour, but the LCD-2 comes in second place – possibly tied with the Sennheiser HD800 (which is lacking in guitar crunch). For the purpose of review context, I’ll detail what I mean with pairing this album in the comparisons below.


The treble of the LCD-2 has a nice amount of air around it, making cymbals pop a fair amount and injecting a slight sense of slight snappiness to the overall sound reproduction. High strings, like violins, and wind instruments like the tenor saxophone sound quite well represented – not overly airy or shrill and maintaining a good sense of tonal balance and depth. Even with songs that absolutely murder me with the HD800 (even SD-modded), I don’t get the same sense with the LCD-2.


Again, I am told that the treble characteristics of the LCD-2 2016 iteration is because of the fazor driver innovation plus a reduction of a more bloated low end – making the headphone possess more micro-detail than before. Even without a pre-fazor unit to compare, I like this change because while I do appreciate a sweet, dynamic but warm sound – I would not have wanted the LCD-2 to sound like laggy. Being laid back and chilled out is a characteristic, being laggy is a flaw – and this headphone is not the latter.


Overall, besides being warm, the LCD-2 feels like a very wet headphone – in stark contrast to the dry and analytical likes of the HD800 or even the less-dry but still starker ZMF Eikon. I find the headphone very enjoyable to listen to with a multitude of genres, but never really edging out any of my other headphones in anything particular. It has shimmering detail where the ZMF Atticus is a little glossed over, but has less aggression and shout than the Focal Elear. It sounds like it uses a wall of reverb to its advantage, making all music listened to take on the Audeze sound that I have heard in their other headphones – but for a price that could be considered entry-level to their lineup.


Amp Pairings


Based on how this sounded from my warm and syrupy Cavalli Liquid Carbon, I would not recommend it or a similar amplifier for it – unless you really want to pursue such a sound signature on purpose. To me it felt a little sluggish, and was better served by the powerful but neutral balanced output of the Audio-GD NFB28. Bass was more controlled too and the shimmering detail was very pronounced, to what I suspect is the best level the headphone has to offer, using the Schiit Gungnir Multibit as a DAC. I have not tried this from a tube amplifier, as I do not have one on hand, so I cannot say regarding that pairing.


Also, as it is a planar magnetic headphone, it does require a decent amount of power to drive – something that should be considered when selecting an amp for it.


Genre Pairings


As an all-rounder, the LCD-2 is firmly in that jack-of-all-trades area for its pricerange. Ironically, it is able to handle more genres of music than my other headphones (barring the Focal Elear, which does this better if you are a fan of its shouty and aggressive sound signature). From jazz to classical, from metal to pop – the LCD-2 envelopes music with its own characteristics and presents a pleasant listening experience that has a lot of body due to the low end.


Electronic music may lack bass slam compared to the likes of the Fostex TH-X00 or ZMF Atticus – but it is still not thin-sounding like the HD800. Bass guitars fall right into the range that is well-represented by the low end of the LCD-2, but do not have the sharp and precise nature of the HD800. I could continue down this path, but it is needless – this is just a nice-sounding headphone and definitely one you can expect consistent performance with if you like how it sounds - with any genre of music.


Headphone Pairings (DAC: Schiit Gungnir Multibit)
















Sennheiser HD800


The former Sennheiser flagship is placed firmly in the drier and analytical side of things when it comes to headphones in this pricerange. It pairs extremely well, to my ears, with the Cavalli Liquid Carbon, which I don’t find the LCD-2 to do quite as much – but it is quite a picky headphone to pair with amps due to its somewhat harsh 6k treble spike. Bright and even some neutral amplifiers exacerbate this and sound piercing and shrill to me with most genres of music. The HD800 also has the widest soundstage and most precise imaging of all headphones mentioned in this comparison section.


Switching from the LCD-2 to the HD800, you feel like the floor has fallen in a bit – that is how noticeable the absence of the Audeze’s low-end is. You also miss a warmth in the midrange, removing a lot of body from vocals and guitars alike. I would not call the HD800 a V-shaped headphone for this reason, but it definitely sounds a little recessed in this region compared to the Audeze.


What it outright wins at is reproduction of detail. A solid choice for a reference headphone, the HD800 is quite brutally honest and exposes poorly mastered recordings to the listener – whether in highlighting recording faults or becoming shrill in the face of mastering hack jobs. The LCD-2 is more welcoming of all recordings, particularly the above-mentioned Master of Puppets album – which sounds like the guitars are distant on the HD800, while the drums and cymbals are thin and piercing.


The HD800 is considerably lighter than the LCD-2 as well, coming in around 371g to the Audeze’s 548g.



ZMF Atticus


Switching from the LCD-2 to the Atticus is revealing of just how much (the 2016 model anyway) emphasizes the availability of the shimmering detail hidden in the Audeze’s treble. Phrasing it like this would have you believe that the Atticus is completely lacking in such aspects, which is untrue, but it definitely is not as even in revealing its capabilities – requiring the right genre pairing to do so. What the Atticus has is bass, in abundance, and bass slam. It does not shy away from the electronic genres that the Audeze might be a tad laid back for, and it certainly does not mind introducing hefty low end into just about any recording.


However, this isn’t without its detriments. Master of Puppets is one album that the Atticus suffers on, due to the reliance of a midbassy sound in the mixing falling square in the region that the ZMF headphone emphasizes heavily – making the entire album from start to finish sound a bit bloated. The Atticus hits back, and hard, in electronic pop music – with its bass slam and smooth midrange going hand-in-hand to showcase the headphone’s energetic nature. The Atticus is a more “awake” experience than the LCD-2, which sounds veiled by comparison – but the LCD-2 is able to work with more genres due to its less bassy nature.


One area in particular that the LCD-2 is able to succeed, compared to the Atticus, is in older and warmer recordings – such as those by Led Zeppelin. It does quite well with guitars both electric and acoustic, while the Atticus relies on the mix and can sound a little overwhelmed with such pairings – as Led Zeppelin are from an era without snazzy modern production.


The cherry Atticus and this particular LCD-2 are almost alike in weight, 546g and 548g respectively.



Focal Elear


The Elear’s take-no-prisoners sound, consisting of fantastic dynamics and speed among other aspects, puts it directly across the aisle from the laid back and smooth LCD-2. Both are what I would consider all-rounders, handling most genres with ease if you are a fan of their sound signature. With the Elear, I prefer hard rock, metal and electronic genres while smooth jazz, classical and live recordings sound better to me on the LCD-2. The midrange of the Elear is also aggressive and a bit shouty, while the LCD-2 simply is not.


The Elear also has a snappier sound, to my ears, possibly due to a sudden upturn around 9k-10k after a considerable dip in the upper-midrange – making cymbals and snare drums hit hard. Grand pianos are also tonally superior and more realistic on the Elear. Vocal reproduction, both male and female, are handled better by the LCD-2.


Ultimately, it comes down to preferences. I would not recommend the Elear if you want something for easy listening and are looking to relax – whereas the Audeze fits perfectly into that scenario.

My Elear weighs 448g while the LCD-2 weights 548g. The weight distribution, I must admit, is handled far better on the Elear too – a very comfortable headphone with its headband padding and soft earpads.




Comfort issues aside, the LCD-2 does so much right in its pricerange that it is hard not to recommend to those seeking a relaxed and warm tone in their audio. Once again, I have not heard the previous iterations so I can’t comment on the differences – but I really do feel that it strikes the right balance between warmth and sparkle while maintaining a rich midrange.


It is a distinguished sound, not offering heaps of technical brilliance nor magnified microdetail – but rather an effective zone-out tool that just allows you to listen – and that should always be appreciated in this hobby, where sometimes gear is listened to rather than the music. 


Pros: Sounds as good as it looks. Finest grade materials. Sturdy construction.

Cons: Heavy cans. Heavy cable.

-::The Review::-
That dread sickness returned to my mind and I found myself looking for an upgrade to the Sennheiser HD600. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I mean, the HD600 is a king slayer, so what would “better” sound like?

Research, led by a passion for a warmer signature, brought me to the LCD-2.2 Fazor, by Audez’e. I had long coveted this headphone for its appearance, and now I learn its sonic performance may be equally alluring. The more I read, the more I wanted it, and the more I felt it deserved better than my current DAC & Amp. The Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Plus is a wonderful unit for the price and served me well, however, the LCD-2 deserves a fully balanced unit, and a DAC that doesn’t up-sample.

So… more research.

While I looked into a new desktop system, I kept an eye on the Head-Fi Classifieds. It wasn’t long before an LCD-2 appeared at a price I couldn’t pass up. As is always the case, I wasn’t planning on making this purchase right away. But once you start looking, opportunities pop up frightfully fast.

$650 and it was mine.

I also placed an order for a 2016 model NFB-28 Amanero by Audio-GD. Though, that may have been a little later. I seem to recall it all happening in quick succession. I can’t remember! The sickness clouds the mind!

Either way, the LCD-2 arrived first. I had about a week to test it on the Maverick in single-ended. It immediately impressed me, but didn’t quite sound like the huge upgrade I expected. The LCD-2 is clearer, smoother and more detailed than the HD600, and nothing quite measures up to that Planar sound-wall experience. I was not, however, utterly blown away.

That changed when the NFB-28 came in the mail.

I didn’t have an XLR Balanced cable yet, so for a few weeks I enjoyed my LCD-2 on the NFB-28 in single-ended. This alone was a massive upgrade over the Maverick D1 Plus. The HD600 sounded better as well, but nowhere near as spectacular as the Audeze LCD-2.2 Fazor. It outstripped the Sennheiser by a country mile. Its sound felt much weightier, richer, and more detailed, like the LCD-2 was now getting all the things it hungered for. It’s a voracious beast. Feed it the best source you can get your hands on and the LCD-2 will scale endlessly.

When at last I assembled the Balanced copper OCC cable, my Audeze was unlocked to its full potential. It didn’t change drastically. That’s not what balanced does. It simply increased in transparency, separation, and soundstage. Basically, the equipment disappears more or less completely, and the music is all that’s left. This is the same impression I get with my JH Audio Angie playing from the Balanced Output on the Astell&Kern AK120ii: The veils are parted and you’re brought fearfully close to the naked soul of Sound and Melody.

The Audeze LCD-2.2 Fazor is awe-inspiring in its clarity. There’s absolutely no grain, which highlighted for me just how grainy the HD600 is. In contrast, the Sennheiser almost sounds dirty, a thing I would never have said before. The LCD-2, especially in Balanced, has clean, glass-like audio.

Tonal quality and naturalness is equal, the HD600 being a titan in this field, and the LCD-2 keeping up nicely. Only the LCD-2 produces those tones with a richness and depth that’s new to me. A warm weight imbues the presentation. It’s chocolaty and luxuriant.

The Audeze’s detail and resolution puts to shame everything else I own. It’s the cliché of clichés to say I hear things in my music I never heard before, but **** me! These Planars can do things Dynamics can only dream of. You wouldn’t think a laid-back headphone would excel in detail, yet these render all for your enjoyment. The details simply aren’t forced upon you, as with more aggressive headphones.

Going hand-in-hand with detail is imaging and separation. I doubt they’d be half so accurate without that resolution. As it stands, every element on the track can be heard on its own and located on the stage. There’s so much air and space around each piece it seems like a physical object. I feel as if I could pick an instrument up and move it at will.

Treble is nice and extended. There’s a lot more of it than I expected from a “dark” headphone. The highs are very present, giving air and space to the LCD-2’s signature and banishing any sense of claustrophobia that can occur with very warm phones. There is a subtle sparkle to the highs, yet they are not prone to sibilance. Even old-school Metallica can crash and blear without a messy shimmer distorting the cymbals.

Everyone’s heard about the LCD-2’s bass. You’re probably reading my review because you’re looking for an open-back set of cans capable of beefier bass than you’ve been able to find thus far. Well, the LCD-2’s sub frequencies are marvelous to experience. They have impact, character, texture, and speed. Indeed, I would say the virtues of the bass give the LCD-2 the greater portion of its identity. A velvety tone “colors” the sound to a most splendid effect. And yet I refuse to call them bass-heavy, because everything is in such wonderful balance. I do not get the impression the bass is dominating the other frequencies, in spite of what I said about identity.

This must be part of how Audeze rose so fast in the industry: Giving us bass of this quality without betraying neutrality or muddying the whole.

I’ve called the LCD-2.2 Fazor the perfect upgrade to the HD600, as it does everything the Sennheiser does, only better. Some would say it’s more of an upgrade to the HD650, due to the warmth and bass presence. Maybe. I’ve not had the chance to audition those. Still, if you look at the frequency curve, there is no mid-bass hump on the LCD-2. It’s flat. Which makes it very much like the HD600. The perfect upgrade.

This holds true in most respects, including the mids/vocals. You can’t really do better mids than the HD600, when taken on their own. They’re sort of flawless. But when you take all the other things the LCD-2 does and apply those effects to the vocals, they are a bit fuller, a bit more detailed, and a bit cleaner. Therefore, the mids are, if I dare to say it, “better” on the LCD-2.

Forgive me, Lords of Kobol!

When you are accustomed to IEMs and feather-light headphones like the Sennheiser HD600, or Momentum 2.0, these cans feel like a hundred pounds sitting on the top of your head. My cranium and neck muscles required a couple of weeks to strengthen before I could use the LCD-2 for more than forty minutes at a time. Now I feel rather comfortable wearing them. I’ll never forget they’re on, like I do with the HD600, but at least the fatigue has gone away.

But I’m a big burly bear. If you’re on the petite size, these may crush your brains, or compress your vertebrae into powder. Consult your physician about a Weapon X upgrade.

I’m a fan of leather pads. I’m also a fan of velour, or whatever the f*** the HD600 uses. Leather is trickier, though. You don’t want to wear it if you’re sweating, or even if you just came out of the shower. So my enjoyment of headphones like the LCD-2 or Momentum 2.0 Over-ear is hindered by certain conditions. Audeze sells Microsuede Vegan Pads, but I like the leather so much I doubt I’ll bother. My heart fills with dark pleasure knowing the Planar Drivers are cushioned against my head by the flesh of what was once a living, breathing miracle.

The warranty card for my set gives a manufacture date of November 2014. This is an older 2.2 Fazor, before the driver revision which, as espoused by some Head-Fi’ers, finally makes the Fazor model sound “good”. I can’t comment on the newer versions, but my model leaves nothing to be desired. It has a sound that matches the aesthetics. By that I mean, when I look upon that gorgeous wood, rich lambskin leather, and solid black metal, I imagine what quality of sound must come from a thing of this craftsmanship.

Let me assure you, Pinky is not disappointed. The Audeze LCD-2.2 Fazor may be my final headphone. After more than six months with it, I have no desire to seek “better”. Every time I put them on, I am wowed all over again. What more could I ask for?

Built myself a silver-gold alloy cable. Sounds sharper still, with better defined treble. Slightly less bass, which does cause me to EQ sometimes.


Pros: Musicality, bass, imaging, and believable treble

Cons: Expensive, low quality stock cable, comfort during long listening periods

The Audeze LCD 2.2 is one of the most popular headphones on Head-Fi. Much has already been written about them, so adding yet another review may not offer anything new or different. However, when the 2.2 line was upgraded to include Fazor technology, the reviews were a little more divided. Some loved the upgrade. Others hated it and felt the non-Fazor model was better.


Which is it?


Well, I can't answer that because I've never heard the non-Fazor model. But, I can tell you the Fazor version is fabulous.


Evaluation Setup:


Amplifier: TEAC HA-501

DAC: Schiit Bifrost Uber

Source: iPod Classic via Pure i20 dock with coaxial connection

Tweak: Charleston Cable Company Canare cable (not for sonic improvements, but for sturdiness and longevity; stock cable is fragile and doesn't inspire confidence)


The way I can best describe the LCD 2.2F sound is to take you through my audio journey.


My first entry into "high end" headphones was the Beyerdynamic DT880/250 ohm. At first, these were wonderful. Crisp details that I never heard in my music before. Better imaging than anything I've ever experienced. After about a year, I realized that the initial wonder wore off and they weren't for me. I found them dry, brittle, boring, and lacking bass.


The next natural transition from the DT880 in search of more excitement was the DT990/600 ohm. These certainly were very exciting. The bass was much more pronounced, the treble was sizzling, and the v-curve that got me through my youth was in full effect. There was more meat and life on the bones, so to speak. However, after about a year or so, I decided the treble was really too much, especially when fed from a solid state amp.


I then purchased the Sennheiser HD600. At first, it was perfect. It was a balanced signature, with much more controlled treble. It was smooth and enjoyable. I was pretty happy with these for about two years, but then I found the bass lacking. They also suffered the dreaded 3-stage blob and made some recordings seem unnatural.


The next natural move was to adopt the HD650. These did in fact have more bass, so all was right with the world. However, they were almost too polite and laid back. The treble was clear, and they don't have the lack of treble that so many people claim. It's just sweet and subdued, but almost in an unnatural way. Some tracks sounded marvelous, yet others sounded dull, congested, and claustrophobic. There was too much midbass creep for my liking. Also suffered the 3-stage blob. It took me less than a year to reach the conclusion that I liked these cans, but I still wanted more.


About the same time I bought the HD650, I also purchased the Shure SRH1540. Up to this point, all of my headphones had been open designs, and I thought I might try the closed variety. They are pretty darn good, but they really have too much bass for my liking. I always thought of myself as a basshead, but these cans showed me that I wasn't. There was simply too much low bass, and the midbass creep was even worse than the HD650. My search would continue.


Enter the Audeze LCD 2.2F. I'm not going to go into exquisite details trying to describe the sound signature using as long list of creative adjectives or metaphors. That's been done countless times here on Head-Fi. Rather, I'll state that these headphones have finally given me the exact sound signature I've been looking for this whole time.




-The sound is balanced from top to bottom. The bass is accurate and tight, while the treble is natural. No sizzle. It's life-like and clear. A criticism of the non-Fazor version is lack of top end clarity and treble extension. Not these. These do treble right.


-There is no midbass creep at all. At first listen, I actually thought the LCD 2.2F were bass light. However, once my brain adjusted, I realized it was because there was no midbass creep and what I was hearing was the natural bass range in the recordings. It also cleared the way to hear the deepest of deep bass much more clearly.


-Soundstage and imaging is a very personal thing, and also one of the more disagreed upon topics when reviewing headphones. Compared to all of the other headphones listed above, the LCD 2.2F has the best soundstage and imaging. I'm bringing this up because one of the debated weak points of the LCD 2.2 (Fazor and non-Fazor) has been the soundstage. These aren't the last word in width or depth, but I found them to have the most believable and balanced of all my headphones. The image is coherent and extends into the corners that the other headphones miss. There is no 3-stage blob. When sounds track from right to left, the sounds no longer go "over" my head or "in front" of it in an unnatural manner. The sounds go through my head in a natural, linear movement. Very believable and life-like. The soundstage also has excellent height. They are the tallest of all my headphones.


The sound is clear and non-fatiguing. With my other headphones, I could get either clarity or non-fatigue, but not both. The LCD 2.2F pull both off. There's no haze, veil, congestion, or claustrophobia. 


The sound is fast, accurate, and has a natural timbre.


Overall, I love these headphones. When I first got them, I went through a little buyer's remorse because they were expensive. However, I got over that very quickly and they put a smile on my face every time I put them on my head.




Heavy and can make your head uncomfortable after long listening periods. The stock cable is cheap and horrible. I don't believe much in cable magic, but I bought a replacement cable just to have something stronger and more likely to survive years of use. After all, I plan on having these for a long time. They are very expensive, so there is a huge barrier to entry in this realm.


Pros: Linear well-extend bass. Performs well in all ranges. A good upgrade for HD650 fans looking for more extended bass.

Cons: Comfort. A bit rolled off. A downgrade for an HD650 fan in terms of comfort and weight.

Liquid organic audio - the LCD2

Been meaning to get around to a full review of these for a while. I have attached some of my early impressions from a comparison thread in which I was able to isolate specific frequency ranges and found the LCD2s performance superior.


Since the time of that writing I acquired a Mayflower O2/ODAC which is a better match for the LCD2 than the JDS Labs C5D used in my initial tests. The C5D is still a credible performer but the the O2 felt just a bit more balanced, especially in the mid-range. For the sake of the tests, however, the C5D was able to help spot the differences in the various headphones.

Also, I've managed to go to another Head-Fi meet in Calgary where I was able to listen to a set of LCD3 (pre-fazor) on a Woo Audio setup that was smoother with even better bass than my LCD2s. It sounded heavenly with a price to match. Still, my LCD2 shared many of the same qualities and for a fraction of the price. I listened to Mikoss' LCD3Fs (now sold) and thought they were good but sorta preferred the pre-fazor and didn't feel my LCD2 were that far off. He preferred his HD650 of which he is now a ravenous fan (so am I!) and I was able to compare these headphones. I still think the HD650s are amazing though not technically superior, may be the better choice for some ears (and heads) and certain amp pairings.

The LCD2 I have are the pre-fazor rosewood versions with the old style cable connectors and foam headband. By a number accounts these have the most bass, and the most rolled off treble of all the versions. I'm sure I would appreciate the qualities that the fazor versions bring, but I am very happy with the overall presentation of the 'classic' LCD2s. 

These are completely non-fatiguing headphones. They do demand that you listen to high-quality works, and do their best on the most dynamic of recordings. They are simply incredible for classic rock, jazz, acoustic, vocal, small orchestration classical, and piano. For electronic and pop they are excellent, specifically with the LCD2's bass reproduction, but in this genre they will do their best with very dynamic electronic pieces, rather than 'club-style' EDM productions, which are best relegated to a 'v-shaped' dynamic headphones. 


Given the somewhat cumbersome nature of these headphones, they are not a casual affair. No lying down on your pillow for late night listening. They also require an amp which will likely tether them to a listening-station in your home. They are serious headphones and demand some periodic care and proper handling. Their comfort has either improved with the headphone band loosening and/or I have really acclimated to them. I have no problem just wearing them for hours with a bit of adjustment now and then. Still, they will always have a bit of clamp, they do not disappear, and it has to be said that this can be a major downside of these headphones, enough to turn someone off completely. 

Audeze's new EL-8 is really comfortable, leagues better than the LCD2. If one didn't need the robust bass reproduction of the LCD2, the EL8 would be a good choice. Very easy to drive too, and so consider that part of the overall package. 

I have tried and really like the HE-560. It sat somewhere in the middle of the LCD2 and HD800. It kinda throws you off at first, but it may be one of those headphones that grows on you overtime as just a solid performer. Also, was very comfortable, much better than the LCD2 in that respect.

The HD800s I love every time I try them. Completely different sonic signature than the LCD2, and I don't mind it. More treble tilted, with articulate bass range. 

Still, the LCD2 has its own thing going for it and stands alongside the HD800 and HE560. Depending on one's preferences, it could even be preferred. If you want something beefier, that is not muddy, but has a solid weight to its presentation, yet still feeling tonally balanced - the LCD2 is for you. In fact, the LCD2 has an organic presentation that is more akin to actually listening to real-world instruments and sonics - especially the lower-end and mid-range timbres. There is a caveat, the LCD2 is rolled off on the upper end, even more-so than my prior HD650s. It just needs a bit more elevation to give some recordings a bit more 'air' on the top end. Make no mistake, it has exceptional treble detail as discussed in my comparison, but it is rolled off a bit. This appears to be what Audeze has sought to adjust in later versions and in their latest models. That said, a slight bit of EQ works, but most of the time I couldn't be bothered and enjoy them as is. Your brain adjusts.

If one isn't looking to spend a ton and wants a headphone that doesn't require a dedicated amp I would look into the Fidelio X2. Was really impressed with them at a recent meet. The owner, a fellow head-fier, and I compared them back and forth with my LCD2. He was quite taken with the LCD2 and it was clearly a notch above in all sonic aspects. We both agreed, however, that somehow the Fidelio X2 still accomplished being as enjoyable and well-balanced. It was also well-crafted and really comfortable. Quite an admirable achievement by Phillips and a competitor to the HD650 - especially so considering it doesn't require an amp and has a bit more bass heft than the 650.

The HD650 is another consideration and even a replacement for the LCD2 if one needs a more comfortable headphone and is okay with loosing the bass extension. 


I wouldn't necessarily recommend the LCD2 right off the bat if you are new to this hobby or high-end headphones. If new, I'd look at the Fidelio X2, the AKG 7xx, ATH-M70x, HD-598. The reason for starting with these is it will help you identify if you really need something more and decide whether it's worth it to take that step forward. Neither of them have significant amping requirements either.

I lucked out, and my used LCD2, were a 1/3 of their new price. I have never seen that type of deal before or after, so I'm glad I jumped on them. They were damaged, with split wood and loose connectors. All of which I fixed with wood glue and filler.

Aside form music listening, which in the first month-or-so of ownership is all I did every evening, I've been using them for some music production and gaming. I've had a friend test these out who is an audiophile beyond most on this planet. He works in the industry and has owned top flight 2-channel setups. For whatever reason, he never had experience these headphones. I watched him just sink into his couch listening to Mozart with his eyes closed, paying attention to every detail. He was in awe, and said 'yup, these are incredible'.

My other headphones compliment it pretty well, though I still wouldn't mind the HD800 for listening to binaural field recordings and other works that need more spatial depth. Also, the HD800 is so comfortable I wouldn't mind owning it just to see if it is my end-game headphone for that reason. Still it doesn't have the visceral low-end of the LCD2 and I'd likely miss that. 

My Sennheiser Amperior is the only headphone not included in the following comparison. In brief, the Amperior has some audiophile aspects to it but has no where near the transient detail nor instrument separation. The bass is not as controlled, and is a bit too mid-bass accented (even more so after exchanging the pads to pleather pads which increase the seal). The treble can be a bit much for some or even strident. Still it is a very good headphone for $110 CDN that I purchased it at, and is great for street use, music production and work. The HD25 I-II is a more balanced headphone and closer to the presentation of the LCD2.



Comparing a new favourite with some studio classics.

copied from my thread here (5/7/15):


I wanted to get my impressions down on these headphones, primarily as I recently sold the HD650 to a friend. In doing this comparison and listening test, I found that the headphones showed their strengths and flaws uniformly. While there may be the occasion where I might prefer one presentation over another for a certain track, for the most part, the headphone with the better technicalities sounded better no matter what the genre. 



Gear used:

Audeze LCD2 revision 1 - recently acquired, just under a week. 

Sennheiser HD650 - owned for almost an entire year. Didn’t think I’d be moving on so early.

Sony MDR-7550 - owned for about a year. Previously owned a Sony MD-EX600 for about a year

Sennheiser HD25 1-II - owned for about a decade. Loaned to a friend who travelled the world and these never left his side. They went through a motorcycle accident, fire and rain. Got back to me in complete disarray. Still using the original drivers, cups and headband. 

MacBook Retina 2012 running Vox and Adobe Audition - Vox is a great player for OS X and can synchronize sample rate and obtain exclusive access to the DAC.


JDS Labs C5D - this is a capable DAC/amp for use with IEMs/ sensitive headphones and it has enough power for the HD650 and LCD2. Some may scoff at this little amp as it isn’t super pricey, but I found it had sufficient power  for both the 650 and the LCD2. Part of this review uses bandwidth isolation to listen to specific frequency ranges. In this respect, the C5D performed perfectly. If there are benefits I could get from a higher end dac/amp, I would expect it to increase the respective performance of both the HD650 and LCD2. That said, I feel the key technical differences can be sufficiently identified with the components I’m using. Both the HD650 and LCD2 could be driven at equal volumes from the C5D even at 2.5x gain. With the higher gain setting of the C5D there is plenty of room to spare and they can reach ear damaging levels. I’m heading to a head-fi meet soon, so I should be able to listen to some pricier DACs and amps and can update this review if my jaw hits the floor. I’m open minded to re-evaluate, and interested to hear higher end components especially with the LCD2. 

Bandwidth Isolation Tests

Why Bandwidth Isolation? When you are comparing headphones traditionally, listening to the full spectrum of music, it is easy to get swayed by the overall subjective experience of what you are hearing. By selectively comparing specific frequency bands, typically the high-end and the low-end, it can become very evident how these ranges are handled. I used my ears for this test, but measuring equipment would be helpful to see distortion and other artifacts.

Test track used: Tipper ‘Ambergris’ Fathoms EP - 44.1kHz / 16bit

I picked this track for bandwidth isolation testing because of its high-fidelity in both high and low extension and its consistency throughout allows you to listen over a period of time to hear the full frequency range. This track is impeccably produced by David Tipper. Here is a man who knows how to create bass music. His background started in creating tracks for car audio subwoofer tests and he has grown into musical talent. Where some artists in the electronic spectrum are squashing their tracks for the dance floor, Tipper is meticulous in his production. He is known for his SurroundSound production, digital audio mastering, and providing content for DTS Inc. 


General Listening Impressions with Test Track

HD650 - This is electronic music with modulating waveforms that runs the entire frequency range while retaining integrity. I’m a bit worried how the 650 may perform here on the sub bass. The attack of the bass is there on the HD650. It does extend all the way down, but rolls off with perhaps a hint of distortion on the bass notes. 

LCD2 - This one of the first EPs I played on the LCD that woke me up to what they are capable of. The full spectrum of detail from the electronic instruments is represented very well. The somewhat darker tilt of the LCD matches this genre of music perfectly. Precise, spacious, with full weight on the lower tones. 

MDR-7550 - The 7550 presents itself with more treble bite than the LCD2, and with more bass punch. The 7550 is remarkably clear and powerful sounding. I’ve been continually impressed by it and its sibling the MDR-EX600. I would say if you like the LCD2 and want a portable and extremely comfortable IEM version, the 7550 may take the prize.


HD-25 1-II - Probably the ‘fun’ sounding headphone of this bunch. It has an addictive signature. Punchy bass. It doesn’t have the same clarity as the 7550, and has less separation. The bass rolls off, and although extending deep, is not near LCD2 levels. This headphone is not going anywhere, though. It fits extremely well, seals perfectly, and is excellent for so many applications. 



Bandwidth Isolation using Test Track 


Low Frequency Range

Using Adobe Audition to isolate the lowest frequencies of bandwidth in the test track, it is clear where the LCD2 has the advantage with its deep uniform bass extension. The HD650 cuts off early and does not hit as low. The 7550, its bass is great, but does not extend as deep and has some distortion. The HD25, again like the 7550 audible distortion, and in this case doesn’t extend as far as either the 7550 and nowhere close to the LCD2. 



High Frequency Range

On the highest frequencies 15k and up, you can hear transients clearly on the LCD2. They are coherent and more information is presented than the other headphones for this test. Harmonics in this range sound like a very high pitched and rapid glissando. With the LCD2 the glide in the harmonics was more continuous and there was just more harmonic information.



Here you can see that a range is selected as the audible portion

Remarkably, these higher frequencies were barely audible on the HD650!

Comparing between the LCD2 and the HD650, there is significantly more information at these extreme ranges being reproduced by the Audeze and I suspect this goes for the entire audible range. I made sure to match the volume ranges, and honestly even if I turned it up on the 650, this information is just not present at the extremes. 


I tested the MDR-7550, and it too, did not reproduce these upper harmonics like the LCD2. The harmonics that were present were quieter and subdued, perhaps just a bit more audible than the HD650.


The HD25 - again, quieter transients. They were there, and perhaps a touch more audible than the 650.

I was surprised by the HD650 not being to translate these high frequency ranges. Its possible that these frequencies are somewhat attenuated. If it wasn’t for the LCD2, I might assume this is the limit for typical dynamic drivers and they pitter out at this point. I'm sure if I had an HD-800 on hand this probably would not be the case! I also have to say, for all of those listening to high sample rate music, you’ll be surprised to see just how little is in the upper ranges, and even more so, how your transducers may not even produce these upper harmonics, never mind our ears inability to hear them past a certain range. The range displayed in Audition will be completely dependent on the file.

Music and Genre Comparison 


For the following critical listening test I didn’t stick to an order of preference. I enjoyed the complete piece with each single headphone and occassionly went back to swap back and forth.



Avro Part & Latvian Estonian Riga Tallinn Choirs - Adam’s Lament


HD-25 - Well, it almost sounds like I’m listening to a mono recording. Listenable. No sense of space.  Nice timbre though. The HD-25 has a nice presentation but here it is severely lacking.


MDR-7550 - Wow. Night and day difference. The soundstage opens up in comparison to the HD25. Suddenly, strings and chorus, now have nuance and emotion. The 7550 is much more refined than the HD25 and less meaty in the mid-range. Great transparency, and you can hear room ambience and reverberations. Bass is delicate and controlled. You could lose yourself listening to this. Voices are perhaps a bit sharp on the higher octave ranges though.


HD650 - It may be just the nature of open headphones versus in-ear monitors, but there is more coherent soundstage with the 650. The 7550 has a wide sense of space, and has more transparency, it just doesn’t present itself as realistically. The 650 though, is softer, relaxed and gentle. Bass notes are not as discernible, and are taken out of the equation emotionally compared to the 7550. There is ‘air’ in the room space with the 650 though. You hold your breath when listening to this piece in quieter segments, almost as if you don’t want anyone to hear you! I have to say though, the 7550 was pretty remarkable in comparison. The 7550's extra detail and transparency edging out the 650. Higher range vocals might be a bit strained with the 650. Overall, with the 650,especially in the mid-range there is a natural, relaxed presentation that is very enjoyable.


LCD2 - There is weight and emotion. I feel like the transparency from the 7550 and the naturalness of the HD650 have been blended together. Combine that with overall superior transient reproduction and the LCD2 is clearly preferred. To be fair, the HD650 mid-range is very seductive, and with the whole presentation not being as weighty as the LCD2 some may prefer this presentation. Again that ‘air’ that the 650s deliver just helps give a certain realism to the presentation. The LCD2 has more realism in timbre, but I can see where some may prefer the LCD2 to have a higher treble response. I do have the LCD2 rev1, and have not heard the Fazors or rev2 editions so perhaps this is what has been addressed. I’d give my second choice to the 7550.



Bach- European Brandenburg Ensemble & Trevor Pinnock - Sechs Konzerte für den Markgraf von Brandenburg (2007) [FLAC]16bit 44.1
Koncerto Nr.1


LCD2 - Similar to the previous piece, the LCD2 offers a peerless window into the heart of the performance. It is effortless (aside from the weight of the LCD2!) to listen to all six concertos in one sitting. I feel truly spoiled, as this is the first time I’ve had such fidelity and the ability to listen so intimately to a performance. I haven’t had the luxury of attending many live concerts, and this is real treat. This level of performance makes me want to share this experience. I’ve read articles on websites where people rag on audiophile equipment and ‘over-priced’ headphones. Well, I truly hope performance like this becomes more affordable as I feel it will allow people to appreciate performances and compositions that they otherwise may have ignored in favour of pop-material that translates easier onto their ear buds. I have read that some people feel the LCD2 soundstage closed-in, but that is not what I am hearing here. It is wider and more expansive than the 650. What I hear is the greater realism and detail defines the recorded room space.


HD650 - Immediately the performance opens up - literally up. You get the impression that perhaps there was a low ceiling before with the LCD2, not quite oppressive, but the 650 is so effortless a listen. I’m going to miss these. The instruments blur together a bit, whereas they were more separated and defined with the LCD2. Even with the lack of detail the presentation is so great that you just relax and listen. Switching back to the LCD2, there is a range and extension both on the low end and the high-end that ‘completes’ the presentation. The 650 is still very close to the LCD2 in its rendering of this piece. Technically the LCD2 is better and you can hear it. But the 650s mid-range prowess is undeniable and therefore you still get an excellent rendition of the performance. 


 "the difference is like reading a lovers' note and having them in front of you."


7550 - Again, it is easy to notice that the soundstage of the 7550s, although wide, is not as realistic as with the LCD2 or the 650. As noticed on the Avro Part piece, the low-end of the 7550 helps translates the emotion. While clear, the instruments don’t have as much separation as the LCD2, and the soundstage feels a bit compressed vertically. I feel this has may have to do with the sound waves not hitting the outer ear. Aside from this, you have plenty of detail and fast transient response. The presentation of the 7550 may just be a bit too bass heavy for this genre, and this is where the EX1000 probably would shine. Indeed adding a bit of highend EQ helps. Definitely the bass feels a bit over-represented.  The sound is in you head and sounds panned hard right and left. Still great clarity and performance.


HD25 - working all the way down to this sturdy headphone. While not as wide a soundstage, it is more acoustically realistic than the 7550. The stereo phase however is more narrow, the instruments somewhat flat. If you were just strolling around you’d be certainly content. However, if these were your only headphones, you may not reach for this music. The recording is just too dynamic and nuanced for the HD25. I’ve always loved classical and even enjoyed it in the waking hours listening to mono AM radio. The arrangement on its own is a language, but the difference is like reading a lovers' note and having them in front of you. They are still enjoyable and some of that natural timbre comes through, just without the finesse. I’d characterize the deficiencies of the HD25 similar to most dynamic consumer cans. You’ll never know what you are missing but you’ll probably enjoy what you are hearing. Often I’ll be listening to the HD25s, and even now with such a dynamic piece think “these are great!’ And its true. They are classics. I’d choose them as a desert island headphone as I know they’d last and if a part broke i could get Sennheiser to airdrop in a replacement. 



John Coltrane A Love Supreme 24 bit 88.2 kHz


HD-25 - I’m starting to form an impression here that is pretty consistent. On the HD-25 pianos are flat. There isn’t nearly as much detail in the higher and lower transients. 

7550 -  From the opening of the piece, the percussion is more spacious and detailed with more body on the bass. Piano with a bit more dimension. Trumpet much more vividly realized than the HD25 (and almost as good as the LCD). There is a higher-end extension on the percussion and overall sound. A little boxy sounding on the lower-end, not tubby, just a bit boxy. 


HD650 - Overall presentation of all instruments just seem to open up. Everything fits together, even if the imaging gets a bit blurred. Is the HD650 too soft though? Moving on.


LCD2 - Just on another level of clarity. Percussion more realistic. Trumpet is life-like, you can hear its natural reverb tail and extension - something I wasn’t getting with the other headphones. Bass nicely textured and responsive. Bass never overtakes or interferes with the mid-range. Without such a reproduction, I could see how certain jazz pieces could be passed over. With the LCD2, I get a feeling that there is a better sound out there for a certain head-fier, but I also know I’ve reached a new height as a music listener. I can now begin to really listen to pieces, that until now, were locked away under a haze, veil, and lack of technical performance. 


Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon


LCD2 - Smooth and deep, though a bit dark. Great depth and space. ‘Money’ just straight-up rocks.  Excellent depth in reverb ambience and you can hear those reverberation transients clearly in the room space. Just wow. I need to start listening to more classic rock. 


HD650 - A lighter listen. You can still hear those reverb transients but they are bit ‘cloaked’ and diffused. Vocals are still fantastic. I’d say the HD650 make excellent headphones for rock music. Similar issues to the other tracks tested, in the imaging not being as good, and everything just blending together. 


HD25 - Wow. These are doing great for rock. Very enjoyable. Not far behind the HD650 here. Great set of headphones.


7550 - A little too much bass emphasis. I’d take the HD25 over the 7550 on this one just because of the HD25s more natural presentation. Saxophone sounds great on the 7550. Guitars are pretty dimensional but compete with the lower end somewhat. 

Final Thoughts


I wasn’t planning on upgrading headphones. I really thought I’d have the HD650 for years. The opportunity came up to get a revision 1 LCD2 at an unbeatable price. The wood had cracked near the jacks, but it is very minor and barely noticeable - but hence the discount. This was a headphone that was completely out of my price range several years back. Truth be told though, I could have afforded it, I just didn’t know I’d want it! Now having listened to headphones on the level of both the HD650 and the LCD2 there is no going back. They become your audio standards. Next step, I’m going to explore DACs and amplification. Right now, the LCD2 seem like my perfect headphone. It has a similar tonal quality to the HD650, which makes parting with the 650 much easier. The comfort isn’t near the HD650, and what I found was that initially I was wearing the Audeze too loosely. Adjusting the fit, the ear cups are now more perpendicular and the weight distribution is more balanced. I can now wear these for hours with good comfort.


For the music I enjoy, a mixture of ambient, drone, binaural field recordings, electronic, jazz, fusion, experimental, orchestral, ensemble and solo piano with the occasional rock, and vocal pieces I couldn’t be without these. Interested to hear the LCD3, LCDX, Alpha Dogs, HE-560, HE-500, and Stax headphones.


Regarding the 650, they are excellent, and I respect that many have chosen them as their end-game headphone. It does sound like a bit more can be squeezed out of them with higher-end equipment. For me, the technicalities evident in my listening sessions pointed to the LCD outperforming the HD650 in key areas. Comfort and tonal signature of the HD650 could be a preference over the LCD2, however. I am fan of the 650 and I’d recommend them to many people as an affordable way to get into audiophile sound. The LCD2, are just taking me to a place I’ve never been though. Even having listened to expensive Bowers & Wilkins floor standing speakers (with Classe amplification), this audio rig is just awesome - its mine to listen to and didn't cost a fortune.  


Typing up this review I listened to the LCD2 the entire time. Just as I was about to submit this I got a text from my friend who bought my HD650:


"Dude, I am in love with these headphones! My 598s are nice, but this is another level"


For me, this is what makes this little hobby so enjoyable. Sharing the experience of music and sound with people.


Pros: Full-bodied mid-range, relatively close to neutral- & natural-sounding, music genre versatility

Cons: Suffocatingly-small soundstage, lack of clarity & musical dynamics, physically heavy & uncomfortable

Originally published on April 11, 2011

Updated on December 11, 2011


Note: this review is an exact cross-post from post #1 of this thread on Head-Fi, which contains some user discussion on the review that may be relevant to read: http://www.head-fi.org/t/548875/review-audeze-lcd-2-r1-r2-hifiman-he-6-stax-sr-507-stax-oii-mki-bhse-et-al

- download a printable 9-page PDF version of this review (links go to locations on my Dropbox)
- download a printable 15-page PDF version of the notes that were written for this review. The notes should be considered a supplement and not a replacement for this review (as the review is not straight from the notes). The notes for this review in particular are HIGHLY-RECOMMENDED reading for anyone who wants the in-depth details of how most of the headphones directly compared to each other.


Not much really needs to be said to "intro" this review—it's basically just a multi-way review of various mid-level & flagship headphones, which were all owned at different points in time. Every comparison below was a simultaneous one though, and notes from every listening session were saved over the course of a few months. My review process is always at least several months (to get familiar with the equipment being evaluated) and this review was no exception.

A big disclaimer I want to add: the HiFiMan HE-6 and Stax SR-507 were the only headphones that did not get extensive listening time. I had the HE-6 in-house (on loan from another Head-Fi member) for only a couple of weeks, and the SR-507 has been in my possession for just over a week as I write this. So my opinion of the HE-6 and SR-507 should not be considered finalized.


This was originally a review of the LCD-2 r1 (revision 1). Review update on December 11, 2011, was for a new section covering the r2 (revision 2), see below.

Reviewer Biases & Info

My view of a headphone system is "source first" followed by headphones and then amp. In other words, a source of highest quality possible (assuming recordings of high quality also) should be paired with the most preferential-sounding headphone(s), to be driven by the most technically-optimal amp. In my view, the most technically-optimal amp is the one that provides sufficient power for all headphones being used without inflecting its own sonic signature, or minimally at least.

Some portions of the review below refer to the sound of live instruments. As an FYI to put those references into the proper context, I'm a trained violinist (learned via the Suzuki method for 12 years starting at age 6, then quit lessons at 18 and have been playing on and off since, and I'm 30 now) and have had the opportunity several times to play in a symphony orchestra, and I've attended classical-music concerts as well.

Equipment Setup

- Source component: Plinius CD-101 (CD player) (power cord: Signal Cable Silver Resolution Reference - directly into wall)
- Analog interconnects: Analysis Plus Silver Oval RCA & XLR
- Headphone amplifiers: HeadAmp GS-X and Nugget Audio B22 for the dynamic headphones, where noted. HeadAmp Blue Hawaii SE for the Stax SR-507 and SR-007 (OII MKI).

Evaluation Music

CDs by the following artists/bands, by genre:

- Americana/Bluegrass/Folk: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Priscilla Ahn, Sierra Hull
- Blues: Eric Clapton, Eva Cassidy
- Classical: Hilary Hahn (Bach), Julia Fischer (Bach), Carlos Kleiber & VPO (Beethoven), Pierre Boulez & VPO (Mahler)
- Electronica/Trip-Hop: Massive Attack, Orbital, The Crystal Method, The Prodigy, Trifonic, Zero 7, Zero One
- Jazz: Dave Brubeck, Lee Morgan, Steve Kuhn, Tord Gustavsen
- Rock: Led Zeppelin, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Tool
- Metal: Emperor, Helloween, In Flames, Megadeth, Nightwish, Symphony X

Specific tracks on the CDs are given in the review notes (see the PDF, linked at the top).

Audeze LCD-2, overall

LCD-2 w/ 2010 stock and ADZ-5 cables. Amps: GS-X in unbalanced mode and B22.

When I first got the Audeze LCD-2 in September 2010, I was unimpressed. It was dark-sounding (not a whole lot of treble quantity), closed-in (not much "air" to the sound, which made it borderline suffocating to me), and it lacked general bass drive. But my amp at that time, a Rockhopper-built M3, might not have been optimal for it. Later on in early 2011, with the HeadAmp GS-X and the Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR re-cable, the LCD-2 turned into something much more promising when driven in balanced mode. It had very solid & physical bass, actually even better than my Audio-Technica AD2000—very deep, heavy, and low-sounding, not just in the lowest bass but throughout the mid-bass and up into the mid-range. I'd call the LCD-2's overall bass & mid-range almost sneaky in a way—doing a subtle yet fantastic job at making you think vocalists and instruments like acoustic double-bass, bass guitar, etc, are right there in front of you because of how low, full, & "fat" they are, whereas most other headphones just lack that presence factor. The only other headphones in the round-up that offered a similar type of presence factor were the Grado HP1000 and Stax OII MKI.

There are 4 headphone "classes" that I personally define: excellent, above-average, average, and below-average. For reference, there are only a few headphones I classify as excellent: Qualia 010, OII MKI, and JH13 (IEMs). (Not that I think they're flawless though.) I'd classify the LCD-2 as above-average, in the company of headphones like the Beyerdynamic T1, Grado HP1000, and Sennheiser HD800. I don't think any of these headphones to be "better" than one another per se—they all have their trade-offs, the LCD-2 included.

So what I mean by my "above-average" classification is that the LCD-2 is very good—it's just not the best of the best that I've heard. I've heard the LCD-2 on a variety of amps so far—SPL Auditor, Rockhopper-built M3, Schiit Asgard, Avenson Audio Headphone Amp, HeadAmp Gilmore Lite & GS-X, and Nugget-built B22. The best I've heard from the LCD-2 has been with the GS-X in balanced mode and the B22. And with those two amps, the LCD-2's sound can be summed up as bassy, full, assertive/direct, and fast (as in impulse response). It's one of the most mid-range-focused headphones I've heard with a heavy slant towards the mids, mid-bass, & bass in general, and it offers a sufficiently different sound than any of the other headphones that were compared that one could easily find an excuse to own it along with any of the others. But if one can afford to buy only one headphone, or just a few at most, I'd call the LCD-2 an instant recommendation for anyone who doesn't really like treble very much and is seeking bass & mid-range more, for listening to music like classical/soundtracks, jazz, electronica/trip-hop, pop/rock, and/or metal. Not that I think the LCD-2 excels at any one of those genres, but it handles them all to varying degrees of success.


LCD-2, revision 2

LCD-2 r2 w/ Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR on HeadAmp GS-X. Also with stock ADZ-6 cable on Schiit Audio Lyr.

The r1 LCD-2 that was originally used for this review was sold shortly after it was written, in April 2011. The primary reason I sold it was due to its relatively mediocre sonic performance, at least for me. After the r2 was introduced, I decided I wanted to try it and finally bought one in October 2011, so my impressions of the r2 are now about 2 months ongoing (as I write this new section, it's December 2011).

Without a direct comparison to the r1, which I was unable to do, I can't say with any certainty how the two revisions compared to each other. But I will say that the r2 seemed to sound very similar to the r1 that I previously owned, and more to the point, just about as good—I'd say it retained the "very good" quality level that I gave to the r1. Having now heard the r1 and r2—both in the exact same way, balanced on the GS-X—I'd also argue that the LCD-2 benefits from balanced operation, because the r2 sounded just as good, if not better, than the r1, when balanced on my GS-X.

In spite of not having any experience of the r2 directly versus the r1, I feel that this review as originally written completely applies to my thoughts on the r2 in addition to the r1, and I mean that in both the good and bad implications. It means that for every aspect that I thought was good about the r1, I thought the r2 was just as good; but for every aspect I thought was less than stellar, I didn't think any of them were fixed with the r2 either—specifically the areas in which I criticized the r1 versus my electrostatic system (OII/BHSE). Scale, dynamics (including intensity), clarity, soundstage, etc, were not significantly improved on the r2 enough that any of them were rectified for me. My conclusion was that the OII/BHSE absolutely sonically crushed the r2 in the same way it crushed the r1.

The Schiit Lyr was an informative experience for me as well—proving to me that an amp with loads of power output doesn't necessarily translate to better sound. I thought the HeadAmp GS-X in balanced mode (2W @ 32 Ohms in balanced mode) sonically crushed the Schiit Lyr (6W @ 32 Ohms) and the r2 sounded significantly better on the GS-X than it did the Lyr. I wrote a review of the Schiit Lyr and it can be found here: http://www.head-fi.org/products/schiit-lyr/reviews/10264

vs AKG K701

LCD-2 w/ Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR. K701 w/ SAA Equinox XLR. Amp: GS-X, in balanced mode.

The K701 was my original favorite headphone before the AD2K (below)—I owned it from April 2006 up to January of this year. Over that time my opinion of it grew increasingly negative though, and at my peak of negative opinion, I thought it was one of the most average headphones I still had. Not that it was terrible, but it just didn't do anything especially good, for any type of music. So the LCD-2 really had almost nothing to go up against for me here. In almost all cases, it eclipsed the K701, offering much more natural tonality on orchestral instruments with a more realistic soundstage, more powerful and filling bass & mid-range, more overall clarity, a faster impulse response, and more diffusion (forced "separation" between musical layers to spread them out from each other more). The only thing the K701 really brought to the table was its usual forward female vocals but even that I don't consider a good quality on every music type, or every female vocalist for that matter (as it tends to deepen upper-register voices, Alison Krauss being just one example).

vs Audio-Technica AD2000

LCD-2 w/ 2010 stock cable. AD2K w/ APS V3. Amp: GS-X, in unbalanced mode.

I've owned the AD2000 (AD2K for short) since June 2006 and it's become my #1 favorite headphone of all time. It started out as my headphone preference for electronica/trip-hop but is now also my preference for metal. One of the biggest reasons I like it as much as I do is due to its forward-moving, insistent sound—not a quality I've heard from any other headphones to date. It's hard to explain this forward-moving insistent quality—there's an extreme tightness to its sound overall, and on fast music it really keeps up the tempo (the musical term for "speed"). On fast music especially, it has the drive of something running really fast, like a runner leaping over endless hurdles without running out of breath. On complex, heavy bass lines, it can charge through like it's Superman smashing through boulders.

The LCD-2 had a lot going up against here simply because I've had the AD2K for years and have gotten so used to it, I couldn't imagine liking anything else for electronica/trip-hop & metal. So it was a huge surprise when I found that the LCD-2 did really well on those music types too—good enough that I'd absolutely recommend it for those music types. It could easily come in at a #2 favorite spot if I added one. For all intents & purposes, it approximately matched the AD2K's impulse response (audibly, that is), while adding an appreciated dose of heavy, deep, & physical bass. I've never thought the AD2K to really lack bass, but against the LCD-2, it sounded light-weight in comparison—but at the same time, the AD2K also had more treble quantity than the LCD-2, so it was somewhat of a trade-off. I wouldn't really say the LCD-2 is great for every sub-genre of electronica though—I thought it was best on breakbeat, trance, & techno (though a disclaimer here as I don't listen to every sub-genre).

I wouldn't say either of the headphones was better than the other but I still prefer the AD2K, at least for the music types mentioned. It has a forward/up-close, very assertive & direct sound that's addictive for metal in particular—its insistent quality makes the fast drumming in most of metal really stand out. I consider the LCD-2 more versatile though, as it handled other genres relatively well too, in addition to electronica/trip-hop & metal—classical & jazz specifically, which I don't listen to at all on the AD2K, because its mid-range makes acoustic instruments sound unnatural.

vs Grado HP1000/HP2

LCD-2 w/ Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR. HP2 w/ APureSound V3 XLR. Amp: GS-X, in balanced mode.

Among all the headphones that I've heard to date, none have matched the HP1000's "living soul" x-factor, but the LCD-2 got the closest. This is an extremely unexplainable aspect of the HP1000 though—you have to hear it to understand it, and while the LCD-2 got very close, it still didn't deliver a true breath-of-life quality to orchestral music. The only other headphone I've heard to match or exceed the HP1000 in this aspect is the Stax OII MKI when amped by the HeadAmp BHSE.

It's tricky to sum up the LCD-2 vs HP1000, as there were various subtle differences. So although this glosses over the finer details, the HP2 could be described as a version of the LCD-2 with: more natural tonality on strings, brass, & woodwind instruments; more treble; a more solid, tighter bass component; more bombast when the recording calls for it; a substantially "richer" and deeper mid-range with a greater degree of texture; a smaller, compressed soundstage; and a more "integrated" type of imaging that made the orchestra sound less like disparate instrument sections and more like a unified body of sections all playing together. All of these aspects made the HP2 sound really good with jazz too, maybe even better than the LCD-2, as it provided more of an intimate setup with the jazz group, throwing you right in with the group (almost as if making you another group member to jam along with them), instead of sitting back from a distance, as the LCD-2 did instead.

vs HiFiMan HE-6

LCD-2 w/ ADZ-5 cable. Amp: B22.

The only thing I conclusively came away with after this comparison was a dislike and negative opinion of the HE-6. I found very few redeeming qualities to this headphone.

The one headphone the HE-6 reminded me most of was the Qualia 010 due to a loosely-similar treble response, but IMO the Qualia's treble is king and the HE-6 nowhere near matched it. The Qualia had the clearest, cleanest treble I've ever heard from headphones, with true razor precision, and the HE-6 simply lacked this quality. It failed to deliver clean high-speed zings, for example, or proper metallic sheens, on bluegrass-type music. The HE-6 did have a very wide, deep, & open soundstage, but that too is eclipsed by the Qualia. So as far as the HE-6 and Qualia go, I think anyone who actually likes the HE-6's treble or soundstage and wants even more would likely find a lot to like from the Qualia.

The HE-6 to me fell in the same trap as the Qualia did—I thought it fared best with bluegrass & ambient electronica due to the treble response and insufficient balance of mid-range & bass. Like the Qualia, the HE-6 was relatively thin in the mid-range (though probably not as thin as the Qualia) and did not have very much bass—though more bass than the Qualia. This made it completely unsuitable to me for every type of music that wasn't bluegrass or ambient electronica—for classical it made violins too screechy, for jazz it made brass instruments too weak-sounding & distant, for electronica it lacked bass power & force, and for rock & metal it was way too thin- and passive-sounding. It was just way too much of a weak-sounding headphone overall. The LCD-2 in contrast was a polar opposite with its full & heavy mid-range and bass, almost like a yin-yang relationship.

The HE-6 was a poor-fitting headphone as well on my small-ish head and I was never able to get a secure fit with it. At the lowest adjustment it still didn't fit my head and I had to put a hand towel under the headband to situate the earcups high enough to level with my ears.

vs JH Audio JH13

LCD-2 w/ ADZ-5 cable. Amp: GS-X, in unbalanced mode.

If there was one thing that this comparison proved, it's that the JH13 was a far easier headphone load, and that the GS-X under-drove the LCD-2 in unbalanced mode. But the GS-X is probably the only amp in the world that can drive both of them realistically, because it has unity gain for the JH13 and High gain + balanced output for the LCD-2. How did they compare, though? The frequency balance was very similar, but the JH13 had lower, more powerful bass. The biggest difference though was that the JH13 was more closed-in (not as much "air" within the soundstage) while the LCD-2 was more open-sounding with more "air" between instruments/layers in comparison.

Despite sounding more similar to each other than any other headphones should sound (not that they were identical-sounding though, just relatively close), I'd say the JH13 and LCD-2 serve separate functional purposes, considering one is an IEM and the other is a full-size headphone. The JH13 can sound really good directly out of a DAP, but it clearly takes high-power amplification to begin to get good sound out of the LCD-2.

vs Sennheiser HD800

LCD-2 w/ 2010 stock & ADZ-5 cable. Amp: B22.

Like the HE-6, the HD800 was somewhat of a treble-tilted headphone. It was better balanced throughout though, with more mid-range & bass quantity. The HD800 had a smaller soundstage than the HE-6, with less depth in particular that made it sound more closed-in. So for anyone who thinks the HD800's soundstage to be large, that should put the HE-6 in perspective, as I thought its soundstage was even bigger with substantially more depth and diffusion (resulting in more "air" throughout).

I thought the HD800 represented another yin-yang to the LCD-2—the HD800's treble tilt versus the LCD-2's mid-range tilt made for a complementary pairing. The HD800's large amount of soundstage depth & width was another contrast to the LCD-2, which was compressed in comparison. The LCD-2's soundstage was much more realistic to me though, despite sounding substantially more closed-in. Its "integrated" imaging was a good contrast from the diffuse imaging of the HD800.

vs Stax SR-507

LCD-2 w/ ADZ-5 cable, amped by B22. SR-507 amped by HeadAmp BHSE.

The SR-507 was more similar to the HE-6 and HD800 than LCD-2, so comparisons were done against those two headphones instead. And between the three, I was the most impressed by the SR-507. Qualities the three headphones had in common included relatively strong treble, high overall clarity throughout the spectrum, and appropriately diffuse imaging—layers were nicely spread out from each other. It could be said that the SR-507 was the most diffuse though, as its imaging had the most lateral span from left to right. The SR-507 had the least soundstage depth though, but I didn't think it was really a negative aspect—if anything, it made it sound less fake and more genuine with respect to the recording. It wasn't quite as good as either the HD800 or HE-6 in certain, minor aspects, but overall it had the most direct, up-close, & driving sound. The HE-6 and HD800 were passive- and detached- (HD800) or distant-sounding (HE-6) in comparison.

The SR-507 also had the fastest impulse response and hence the most precision—fast sequences of notes were the most cleanly separated on it. For bluegrass music it delivered the most pop and twang, qualities that were mostly absent on the HE-6 and HD800. I ended up liking the SR-507's treble the most of the three, primarily because of its precision—the HD800 was simply too slow & imprecise, and the HE-6 didn't accentuate note "attacks" very well—which included details like ringing and high-speed "zings".

None of these three headphones (HE-6, HD800, SR-507) were particularly bassy (and the HE-6 had the least amount of bass) but they did have some bass, just not enough that I'd call any of them satisfactory for music that rides on bass, like electronica/trip-hop. As expected, the LCD-2's higher level of bass was a good contrast against them. The LCD-2 had a substantially more full-bodied mid-range too.

vs Stax SR-007 (OII MKI)

LCD-2 w/ Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR & ADZ-5 cable, amped by GS-X & B22 respectively. OII MKI amped by HeadAmp BHSE. Balanced XLR input on LCD-2/GS-X vs OII/BHSE comparison.

The LCD-2 had an uphill battle against the OII/BHSE, which remains my reference for all acoustic types of music—in the aspect of tonality & timbre, or whatever you want to call it. It's also my reference for soundstage accuracy, as the OII reacts to different recordings and grows or shrinks the soundstage appropriately.

I'll begin by stating that the LCD-2 in balanced mode on the GS-X made for a very fine-sounding LCD-2. But single-ended on the B22 was definitely better—the LCD-2 developed more bass power, more forward drive, and more fill to the bass/mid-range area for an overall slightly-thicker sound—i.e., even more of that presence factor as previously mentioned.

But as good as the LCD-2 was on the B22, and it was definitely good enough that I'd call the pairing an optimal one, it was still no match for the OII/BHSE. For classical music specifically, the LCD-2 completely lacked several qualities. Scale was missing—the sense of the orchestra sounding big with instruments coming at you from back to front. Dynamic range too—the various instrument sections all sounded at similar volume levels and nothing was truly quiet or truly loud. Volume intensity, accurate soundstage width/depth, true clarity, and proper diffusion weren't there either. The OII provided all of these and in spades at that. Julia Fischer's "Violin Concerto in E major, 2nd movement" from her Bach Concertos CD is probably the best example of the OII doing what it does best, especially in the intensity aspect, on her solo violin. The violin's intensity was completely lost on the LCD-2. It made the solo violin sound merely like a violin playing. Not that that there was anything wrong with this portrayal, but against the OII there was simply no peer—the OII made the violin "sing" with subtle rises & falls in intensity, with the orchestra coming to virtual life at the same time.

No, the LCD-2 could not compete with the OII. There were just too many areas in which the OII crushed it on sonic merit alone. But considering the relative prices between the LCD-2/B22 (approximately $2K) versus the OII/BHSE (~$6.5K), it's an acceptable compromise for those unwilling to pay for the high-end electrostatic system. Were there any aspects in which the LCD-2 was better than the OII? Oh there were a few—the LCD-2 was easily the more physical-, tactile-sounding headphone, with a more direct & assertive sound, and there was that heavy, deep bass too. In fact, one of my complaints against all of the electrostatic headphones that I've heard (which include the SR-X MKIII, SR-404LE, SR-507, and even the OII) is that they lack a sort of "directness" to the sound, but this was not an issue on the LCD-2.


SR-507 vs SR-007 (OII MKI)

Amp: HeadAmp BHSE.

A disclaimer here as I didn't formally compare these two headphones against each other to determine relative strengths & weaknesses, but I will say I found them different enough from each other to form a complementary pairing, similar in line with the AD2K & LCD-2 pairing.

In fact, I could take an analogy from the AD2K & LCD-2 pairing. The AD2K was brighter and more forward/up-front, while the LCD-2 was a shade darker with more mid-range & bass and a marginally more passive sound. In a loose sense then, the SR-507 to the OII paralleled the AD2K to the LCD-2. Not that the SR-507 was particularly bright or forward/up-front though, only relatively compared to the OII. But the SR-507's treble tilt & flatter imaging in relation to the OII made it more ideal for certain types of music to me, like bluegrass, trip-hop, rock, and metal, for example. And despite the flatter imaging, I still thought it was perfectly acceptable for ambient electronica, which tends to sound best on headphones with an imposed large soundstage. In fact, I thought the SR-507 ultimately beat out the HD800 which was my previous ambient-electronica headphone, primarily because of its combined clarity, treble, & precision.

Although some might call the SR-507 inferior to the OII, to me it was more of a different flavor that went well with music genres I don't typically use the OII for, as the OII is my preferred classical & jazz headphone. And in my system, I thought it went alongside particularly well with the OII, to comprise a strong electrostatic counterpart to my remaining two full-size dynamic headphones (AD2K & LCD-2).


Alex and Sankar at Audeze, whom I've met in person on a few occasions now, came up with a really good headphone in the LCD-2. They're good guys too and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend dealing with them.

The LCD-2 did very well in most aspects, all things considered. No single headphone can be all things to even one person IMO, which is why I own multiple headphones, but for me the LCD-2 nicely filled in a void—a (planar) dynamic headphone capable of being driven by the HeadAmp GS-X for classical, jazz, & rock, for times when I don't want to rotate in my electrostatic system. I consider it a bonus that it just happens to also do electronica/trip-hop and metal just as well too. The AD2K, SR-507, and OII MKI fill in for its weaknesses nicely—forward-moving drive & insistence in the case of the AD2K; more treble, diffusion, & clarity in the case of the SR-507; and dynamic range, intensity, & scale in the case of the OII MKI.

Once again I defer to the Notes file (linked at the top) for in-depth details of every headphone comparison that was staged. This review was just a scratch on the surface on the iceberg of notes that were written—so read the notes if you want the full compilation of everything that went down for the listening of this review.


4/25/11: relevant info & backstory on the OII/BHSE in my system: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/548875/review-audeze-lcd-2-hifiman-he-6-stax-sr-507-stax-oii-mki-bhse-et-al/60#post_7427838


Related Reading

- LCD-3 multi-way review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/audeze-lcd3-planar-magnetic-headphone/reviews/10298
- Audio-Technica AD2K 5-year re-review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/audio-technica-ath-ad2000/reviews/10293
- Beyerdynamic T1 review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/beyerdynamic-tesla-t1/reviews/10295
- Sennheiser HD800 review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/sennheiser-hd-800-headphones/reviews/10294


Pros: Natural, Fast, tonally rich, deep bass, seductive mids

Cons: i have to save up for them.

I felt extremely priveledged to be included in the first group of people to hear the long awaited and much anticipated release of Audeze's LCD2. Some history: I am not new to planar magnetic technology and have been an avid fan and disciple of planar magnetic headphones ever since I was lured into the murky waters by the vintage yamaha orthodynamic headphones. If not for the keen efforts of wualta on HeadFi, this dream would most likely not have been realised. I first heard about Audeze when a friend and fellow discple of orthodynamic headphones discovered this small company in California, managed to make contact with them and establish that initial dialogue which brought to us the LCD1 and now the LCD2. I really liked the LCD1, it was my first glimpse at what modern planar drivers were capable of. The LCD1 was a top performer and finally offered a modern headphone that had better performance than the venerable Fostex T50vx. It did most things that one would want from a headphone but finally didn't have the ability to reproduce the bass notes with the authority that they deserved. The LCD1 was

always aimed at being a market entry headphone with limited production, as it used an off the shelf foster frame and cup the biggest weaknss for these drivers in the end as they were more than capable of superb performance. The LCD2 is finally here to continue the promise from this dedicated company. An aside on Audeze - they have been very open to guidance from the experience of the headphone community and have worked hard to address most peoples concerns/requests in their development

process. I would be remiss if I did not mention the HE5 from HeadDirect. This is another planar magnetic headphone which made a surprise appearance at CanJam 09 and has garnered much popularity amongst headphiles. I have had the opportunity to hear 2 versions of this headphone, the earliest suffered some congestion on the bass and a peakiness in the upper mids, the later version had cleaned up the bass with some damping but the peak remained and although it was still a very good headphone, it still needed some fine tuning. I have not yet heard the HE5LE but this was version is supposed to address the concerns noted in the HE5.


Back to the LCD2.
Music chain - RED BOOK CD - Yamaha DVD1700(SACD) - highly modified Sonic Frontiers Transdac - direct coupled tube hybrid amplifier with class A mosfet output.

My music preference is vocal/acoustic/jazz/rock/blues/classical


Build quility:
Initial impressions on opening the box were very positive. My review sample did not come in the wooden box but that did not detract from my initial impressions. The black grills against the wood immediately caught my eye , not sure if they had me in mind when they were designing these but they sure had my attention. Weighing in at 1/2kg, these headphones leave you with both visual appeal and a tactile sense of anticipation. The overall engineering is rock solid. Steel sprung headband with metal ratchet type arm adjustments allow for a very sturdy feel. No slipping and no movement once they are positioned where you want them. The foam headband has caused a little stir of dissappointment in the community but make no mistake, they are very comfortable. They do not retain the impression of my sophisticted headphone stand ( a large hand clamp). The cups themselves are solid, lovely wood with a simple finish, as it turns out "Hand selected Caribbean Rosewood". The addition of the mini xlr is a welcome addition and offers an elegant solution to custom cable connectors of many manufacturers. The steel  rill is attractive and finishes the overall look of these headphones. Someone described them as "steampunk". The grill trills when you drag a nail over the surface but I cannot hear any resonance concerns with them. They also are able to screw off, allowing the more adventurous to modify and fine tune the sound to their liking. The Pads are substantial and offer great support and seal to create the soundscape that enables notes to be be free and create that ever important soundstage. I was a little concerned about how hard the leather was, but the lambskin do not sweat ( a huge negative of the stock O2 pads ) and they are more comfy than I had anticipated. You are most definitely aware that you are wearing a serious pair of headphones, none of this " I forgot I was even wearing them" but after 3 hours, I still felt comfortable.

I was told that these drivers had only had an hour of play on them and thus I anticipated the need for a little burn in. I naturally could not wait indefinately to hear them and I am not completely sold on the idea of prolonged burn in. To me if it takes 500 hours for a headphone to sound good to you, you have acclimated to the sound signature and learned how to appreciate it. But that is a can of worms for another debate. I had a few hours before I could sit down with them so I put on some white noise and let them warble.


The first night I just sat back and listened to them, I can normally pick up on idiosyncracies pretty quickly with casual listening. Nothing jumped out at me and I thoroughly enjoyed the following 3 hours, would I be a prat to say they had PRaT :).


The next round comprised listening to some white noise, pink noise and frequency sweeps ( stereophile editors choice test CD ) - subjectively there are no peaks, no inconsistencies, white noise is   homogenous , it extends both high and low.


Sound impressions:
An emphasis on impressions - subjective attributes based on personal preferences.

I like my headphones to present a detailed top end with air and delicacy. This is evident in most all recordings. Live recordings sound just that, live. The acoustic space and pinpoint timing of a Jazz band is reflected in the percussion, ensuring a particularly intimate experience. Is it the most detailed ortho I have heard, no, some of my orthos are damped to  enhance the top end and moving from such an orthodynamic headphone to the LCD2, the initial reduction in top end energy is  noticeable but that feeling is soon replced by a sense of overall balance and enjoyment. I am sure there will be some who

would like a more pronounced top end, this is afterall a selfish hobby which promotes personal preferences but for me, these headphones offer a perfectly balanced sound.


The mids are what particularly stand out for me. They have a rich tonal balance with no loss or emphasis, sound "organic" yet are not boring. They have a richness of tone that very few headphones or speakers redropuce, without sounding "lush".  There is no hint of sibilance and will bring even the toughest logger to his knees if he hears xxx (insert favourite female vocalist here) Not many  headphones reproduce the lower mids well as many headphones have a low mid upper bass bump - this directly impacts on the baritone and can often paint a muddled picture in this department. I listened to an assortment of recordings which focus on the voice within an acoustic space, I wish I could share this experience with you. Just breathtaking and absolutely natural.


The downfall of so many great orthos - do you leave them slightly underdamped so that the bass throbs with a little less control than would be ideal or do you tighten it up so that the bass is several dB down but very tight and accurate. The LCD2 has no problem here - it just keeps going down. The acoustic bass of YoYoMa's cello on the Appalachian Waltz reverberates with multilayered bass that it transfixed me for the moment. I initially thought I heard some low bass warble but it turned out after much listening and reflection that I was hearing bass notes in the music which had never featured in my experience

of the music before. This was only on one particular electronica piece of music which I don't listen to ferquently but does extend the bass notes pretty low. Bach's Toccata's and Fugues sound vivid, Ulanji's bass drum virtuoso is thunderous and never did I feel the bass was congested or lacked definition. Tha bass is tight, punchy, fast and layered with all the texture of the mids. Does it sound as deep as the venerable TP , no, the TP's feel like they have greater impact but they are also closed and lose some of that depth and layering as a consequence.


I have been modifying vintage orthodynamic headphones for some time and have a good feel for what I am trying to achieve when I start out with any given model. The LCD2 accomplishes many of these objectives and manages to retain an open soundstage  without compromising the depth of bass extention or delicacy of treble articulation and the mids are just "to die for". I knew that my time was coming to an end with this pair of headphones and my final wow came when I listened to a piece of

Scottish Folk music recorded by Linnrecords , William Jacksons CorryVrechan. It is a very dramatic piece of music with wide  dynamic swings, drums, bass, bagpipes, pennywhistle, just a lovely shamble of music. It was the perfect note to finish my experience as it left me feeling invigorated and so completely convinced that these headphones were a must have for my collection. I for one am convinced that this is the advance in magnetic planar technology that I had hoped it would be.




Pros: Incredible bass/mids with a true to life sound

Cons: Heavy and treble at times can be slightly recessed.

So I've had my pair for around a month and they have very quickly shown themselves to be deserving to be amongst some of the very best headphones I've ever heard.


Absolutely the best bass of any headphone I've ever heard. Deeper, more defined and controlled than anything out there. The amazing thing is just how scary good it is and with ZERO bleeding into the mids.



Along with the T1s, I consider the LCD-2's mids to be the best I've ever heard as well. Both male and female vocals excel exceptionally well with them. Incredibly organic and upfront with outstanding detail, presence and still very musical.



Very nice treble, but with some of my recordings, they can seem a bit recessed and set the cymbals too far back in the sound stage. But definitely not a show stopper in any way. With other recordings, the treble is full of life and energy. So it could simply be the great transparency of these headphones showing what is on the recording.


Sound stage:

I would rank the sound stage capabilities of the LCD-2s right after my two current favourites (HD800 and T1...in that order). They do portray the sound stage in a very life like way and in proper proportion left to right and front to back. But when compared to the HD800s and T1s they are slightly behind.



This area is not a concern to me in anyway, but as I find the HD800s very comfortable and the T1s/D7000s comfortable, I find the LCD-2s adequate...but still heavy. The one kink in their chain.



What can I say, they are 30% and 40% less than the T1s and HD800s respectively, but in quality they are on par (and in many areas even better). Great value IMHO. Their build and construction is simply outstanding and exude $1000+ quality!!!


Amazing job by a 2 year old company to come out with a product that competes with the "big boys" in the industry...beyerdynamics, Sennheiser, Grado, Ultrasone, etc... that have all been around much, much longer. Congratulations to Audeze!


Pros: Astonishingly good sound - among the very, very best

Cons: Comfort is only fair



Wow – another contender in the high-end headphone market!  Amazing.  I was pretty excited about the emergence of some planar magnetic headphones when I first heard about these and the HifiMan HE-5.  I was a Magneplanar speaker guy for many years – until my kids were born.  Loved them.  Sadly, they were too big a target for the kids, and so they got sold.  But I was very excited about being able to get some planar sound in headphones!  So excited that I rushed to pay just shy of $1,000 for the privilege…


They are very beautifully made, and ship in a beautiful wood box:






Sources used for this review:    VPI Scoutmaster with Benz LP-S > Eddie Current Transcription phono amp, Audio By VanAlstine Fet-Valve Ultra-Dac (from Denon DVD-5900 or iPod and Wadia i170 serving as transports, and Assemblage jitter filter/re-clocking device); Red Wine Audio iMod iPod with ALO VCap dock.



Some observations about the LCD-2 though in terms of their ergonomics/design:


1. They are very attractive

2. They are pretty big

3. They do seem to clamp quite fiercely

4. The leather earpads are awesome

5. The headband though - just a piece of open-cell foam glued to the metal?  In a $1,000 headphone?  That is absurd.  It's comfortable, but there is no way that uncovered open-cell foam will last a year.  It's such a pity to mar the beautiful looks with the crummy open-cell foam.  Wrap it in some leather, Audez'e!  C'Mon!  I would much rather have a leather headband and a cardboard box than the beautiful wood box they included.  I'm already trying to figure out how I will fix this.  Some leather, some snaps, and some trial and error...


 Anyway, after some stretching and some adjustments, the LCD-2 are no longer uncomfortable.  I would call them "comfortable", but not “very comfortable”, really, but at least they aren't actually UNcomfortable anymore.  I can wear them for quite a long while without issue.  But they set no benchmarks in this regard.


Another ergonomic issue - I cannot turn my head from side to side wearing these very easily, due to the stiffness of the cable combined with the length of the connector.



Amping the Beast


Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that with the Leben CS300X, the LCD-2 is absolutely astonishing.  The Leben with the LCD-2 provides a level of sound quality I have not personally experienced before from headphones. I've spent many late hours just excitedly going from  track to test track. All of them have been a treat. It really has to be heard to be believed.

Now the bad news - the LCD-2 exhibit, to some degree, a slightly rolled off treble with all of my OTL tube amps. I actually first thought the LCD-2 had a rolled off treble. It doesn't. But when used with OTL tube amps that have an output impedance higher than the LCD-2’s impedance, the treble is rolled off. With the transformer-coupled Leben - no roll off at all. Just open, clean, super-transparent and super-smooth. And I mean WIDE open sounding. Great detail without any etch or force. And the soundstage is astonishing.

Vexed a little by this, I spent some time with the LCD-2 on the Meier Concerto. It has plenty of juice to drive them for sure, and no treble roll off for sure (got to love that 0.1 ohm output impedance).   The Concerto and the LCD-2 are a good pairing.  The sound is very nearly as good as I described above with the Leben - not quite, as the Leben is the better amp IMO, but for the money, the Concerto is excellent, and the sound from the LCD-2 via the Concerto is open, transparent, and extended as it was on the Leben.  The soundstaging is also excellent on the Concerto, although here again I think the Leben has a slight edge.

But not so much on either the Decware CSP-2 or my modded Singlepower Extreme. The LCD-2 sound very good on those amps, but not as good as they are capable of sounding. With the Leben - they are just amazing.  The roll-off with the CSP-2 isn't as noticeable as I originally thought.  Once I had a lot of time to spend with them, and I was able to try a bunch of different things, I ended up feeling that the LCD-2 are best with the Leben, and second best with the SS Meier Concerto, but the CSP-2 does a pretty good job, really.  And just for grins I tried them with the J Sound Lab Headphone, which, while pretty cheap, is transformer coupled, and actually sounded pretty good with the LCD-2 at reasonable levels.  The only amp that I have that will not work at all with the LCD-2 is the RSA Stealth, which just distorts at even moderate levels - which I found very surprising, as it did very well with the 70 ohm DX1000.  But it is what it is.


So in sum on amps, the Singlepower Extreme and the Decware CSP-2 had enough power for the LCD-2, but with slightly rolled off highs (and probably some other slight frequency response aberrations due to the impedance mismatch that were just less obvious).  Just to be clear, all of these amps drive the Beyerdynamic T1 very, very well.  But they did a less good job with the LCD-2.  Strong solid-state or a high-quality transformer-coupled tube amp will be needed, or an OTL tube amp that has been designed with a very low output impedance (of which I am not aware of very many...) to get the best of what the LCD-2 can offer.  The sound with the Decware CSP-2 was plenty good, really – just not what the LCD-2 are ultimately capable of, and if you’re going to pay almost $1,000 for a headphone…you want to get the most out of them. 


What's fascinating about the LCD-2 is that it actually requires less volume from my CSP-2 than the HE-5LE does.   The LCD-2 also requires more volume from the CSP-2 than the T1, but this does not surprise me.  And I was also a little surprised that the LCD-2 brought the Stealth completely to its knees, even though I know that it isn't meant for super-low impedance cans.  I need to try my impedance-matching transformer and see what that does.


Quirky beast the LCD-2.  Pickiest headphone about amplification I have had.  I don't want to overplay this - the LCD-2 still sound good with the SP Extreme and the Decware CSP-2 - just not as good as they can sound.  But given that they did not work at all with the Stealth, they will not be a "buy them and use them with whatever amp you own" kind of headphone.  Paired with the right amp, though, the sound is remarkably natural and lifelike - very impressively so.  So be warned - amp matching will be critical.



The Sound


I listened several  nights WAAAAAY past my bedtime - that combo, the LCD-2 and the Leben was just amazing me - the soundstage especially was the best I ever recall hearing.  I wish I had the HD800 to compare - I have a feeling the soundstaging capability of the LCD-2 is even better than the HD800, which formerly is the best I have ever heard.  The LCD-2 as heard through the Leben puts a truly holographic soundscape out a little in front of the listener with a depth and width I do not recall getting before, and in an unbelievable natural way.  The delicacy of the treble on the LCD-2 is something special too. It has a purity, nuance, and articulate combined with a complete lack of fatigue or etch. It’s pretty special in this regard.


I can say, however, that some people will not like the treble balance.  I think it is absolutely spot on, neither soft nor bright, but for people who like their treble W5000-style, the LCD-2 will not play. I, on the other hand, do not like to have the highs forced on me, and so I am like the balance on top.  In fact, it's very hard for me to understand how some people who were HD800 fans like the LCD-2 so much.  It's definitely a different tonal balance from that.  Super-smooth, lots of detail, and ultra-natural sounding, with great transparency.  But not at all fatiguing or hyper-analytical.  Very subtle instruments, like the triangle strikes in Carbon Leaf’s “Let Your Troubles Roll By” were very easy to hear without being overly emphasized in a way that I felt the HD800 presented that sort of thing.  Effortless, and natural – I kept thinking this.


There is something to the planar treble that seems to lack a grain that all dynamics have, even if you don’t realize it’s there.  I had thought the Beyerdynamic T1 wad a completely grain-free treble.  And while it is indeed very transparent, the LCD-2 is even cleaner and more pure than the T1.  The T1 does have a treble balance most similar to the LCD-2 of all my dynamics – but the LCD-2 is slightly more refined and detailed, while being slightly smoother too.  A neat trick!


Down low, things are equally as impressive. The bass on the LCD-2 (again via the Concerto and/or the Leben) is really quite something.  It doesn't call attention to itself until required by the recording, but then it is reproduced full measure.  No lack of texture or definition, either - outstanding performance in that regard, in fact.  The bass notes in Goldfrapp’s “Koko” from “Supernature” were powerful, but had great nuance and texture.


I decided to test the bass response of the LCD-2.  I tested both the LCD-2 and the Ed 8, using the Stereophile test CD 3, and my SPL meter, set for "C" weighting, which accounts for the Fletcher-Munson roll-off.  The LCD-2 was shockingly flat to 25 Hz - measuring right around 72dBC from 200-25 Hz - only the 20Hz tone was rolled off, and even there by only about 4 dB.  I could not HEAR 20 Hz from these headphones, but I don't think people can really hear 20 Hz via headphones, because you really feel 20Hz more than hear it, and headphones don't really allow for this.  I could hear the 25 Hz tone very clearly from the LCD-2.


By way of comparison, the Ed 8 I felt like I could actually hear 20 Hz a little more, but it might have just been doubling.  It measured a little less flat, but still +/- 4 db from 200-20 Hz.  Note that I made no attempt here to measure the relative bass levels between the LCD-2 and Ed 8 – I was just measuring the two for bass extension and smoothness.



Here again, however, some people will find the bass from the LCD-2 to be too much.  It absolutely does not color the rest of the spectrum, but I have been around head-fi long enough to know there is a large faction that thinks that accurate bass is a lot less bass than I personally think is natural.  This is an age-old argument – which part of the hall do you like?  The W5000 is front-of-hall – bright treble and very restrained bass.  The HD800 is mid-front.  The T1 and the LCD-2 are mid-hall.  The JVC DX1000 is mid-back.  You pays your money and you takes your choice.  I’m a mid-hall kind of guy, I guess.  But if you think the W5000 have an ideal bass balance, the LCD-2 will not be for you.


And then there is the midrange.  It’s just as natural as you could possibly hope for.  Again, ahead of my rather esteemed pack of headphones – T1, Edition 8, D7000, DX1000, W1000X – better than all of these, for sure.  Amazing transparency, and an almost fascinating degree of naturalness – this was really kind of a revelation, because I didn’t just respect the mids – I loved them – and yet there was no coloration there I could detect at all.  The Beyer T1 sounds a tiny bit artificially ripe in comparison, but not in a way that means the LCD-2’s mids are in any way thin – far from it.  The T1 are terrific in the mids – but the LCD-2 are slightly better.  Female vocals were really wonderful – I was shocked when listening to Nightwish’s “Ocean Soul” – it was almost as if I’d never heard the song correctly played back before.  Mary Black’s cover of Richard Thompson’s “I Misunderstood” from her “Shine” record was also enthralling for it’s incredibly unforced, natural presentation.


And oh, the soundstage.  So deep, so wide, and so well defined – and not only between the ears, but out in front of the head.  No question the best of any of the headphones I have.  Perhaps the HD800 is as good or better – since I no longer have them I don’t feel I can accurately say.  But the imaging qualities of the LCD-2 are terrific.  For someone who really values a holographic soundstage highly, the LCD-2 are sure to please.  Listening to some live Alison Krauss was enthralling – it felt so much like the performance was really going on it was a little spooky.  This effect was more noticeable with the Leben than the Meier, but it was definitely there with both.





Compared to the HE-5LE, I can confirm that the LCD-2 require less juice from my amps than the HE-5LE do.  The HE-5LE do not seem to have the same issue with being rolled off in the treble by my OTL amps, though.   As much as I like the HE-5LE, with the right amp, the LCD-2 is a significant step above the HE-5LE in terms of performance (although not ergonomics - I find the HE-5LE to be more comfortable).  The HE-5LE are excellent.  The LCD-2, talking just about sonics, are superlative.  I think the HE-5LE provide a huge taste of planar goodness for a relatively affordable price, and they are highly competitive in their price range.  But the LCD-2 are more neutral, more transparent, and more nuanced.  That isn’t an indictment of the HE-5LE as much as praise for the LCD-2.

The LCD-2 versus the Beyer T1 is more interesting.  The T1 is outstanding IMO.  It is also infinitely more comfortable than the LCD-2, again IMO of course (like this whole review!).  And the overall spectral balance is somewhat similar.  The T1 seems a little lush in comparison, and somehow just slightly less immediate.  As mentioned above, it’s also just slightly less transparent.  Being 600 ohm, it will mate better with some amps than the LCD-2, and as such, will be a better choice in some systems, and it’s close enough in performance that I wouldn’t toss a T1/high-end amp combo that sounds great in favor of trying the LCD-2.  But if you have a great solid-state or transformer-coupled tube amp, then the LCD-2 might synergize better than the T1 – perhaps. 


I would rate them for sound: LCD-2 > T1 > HE-5LE - but they are all truly excellent sounding


I would rate them for comfort: T1 > HE-5LE  > LCD-2 - the T1 and HE-5LE being very comfortable, and the LCD-2 being just fair (but after some break in no longer truly UNcomfortable).





So what are the LCD-2?  A fairly expensive, high-end headphone that offers absolutely world-class sonics, is picky about the pairing amp, looks beautiful, and is only somewhat comfortable.  So where does that leave them?  I will certainly be keeping the pair I bought.  But it’s not a no brainer to plunk down a kilobuck when there are a few gotchas.  I suggest trying to find a way to hear a pair – but also to have them on your head for a while, if possible.  And you’ll need to read a lot of opinions here on head-fi about what amps will work well.  But given these caveats – the LCD-2 is pretty impressive.  It has delivered some true musical magic for me.

Audeze LCD2 Planar Magnetic Headphones

Audeze LCD2 designed for Recording / Mixing Engineers as reference headphones and for audiophiles and music enthusiasts. - Hand selected Caribbean Rosewood ear cups. - Lamb Skin Leather Ear pads. - Audeze’s unique planar magnetic transducer with matched sensitivity. - Mini XLR interchangeable cable. - Easy to drive with amplifiers. - Left and right transducers have matched sensitivity and frequency response. The LCD2 housing is designed and custom built from hand selected Caribbean Rosewood or Bamboo composite. It is built to enhance the quality of the sound and offers a unique coloration and graining. The LCD2 ear pads are designed to optimally recreate the entire pro audio frequency range. The sloped ear pad design allows us to faithfully reproduce the detail and clarity to the bass, midrange and the treble. The ear pads are made of premium lambskin leather with specially selected foam to offer the right amount of firmness.

Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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